Today, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. But, sometimes I wonder why Jesus was baptized in the first place. After all, He is God. He is already sinless. He has no reason to repent, change His ways, or ask forgiveness. Perhaps Jesus came to be baptized as a representative of the sinful human race to foreshadow His death and resurrection three years later? Or maybe to set the example for the rest of us for what it means to start fresh with a clean heart and follow Him. After all, John’s mission was to prepare the way for Jesus to come, not to take away sin.
Scripture doesn’t say why Jesus was baptized. But, the Gospel does tell us that when John the Baptist asked Jesus why He wanted to be baptized, Jesus said it was fitting to fulfill all righteousness. So, perhaps Jesus asked John to baptize Him simply as an act of obedience to God’s purposes. God had given John the promise of a coming Messiah and the way to identify Him. Jesus fulfilled that promise. His Baptism was simply the right thing at the right time: the last act of Jesus’ private life before beginning His ministry to show us the path to righteousness so we can grow closer to God.
So, what about us? Why were we baptized? Because, our Baptism is not a rite of passage into a special club. Our Baptism is an entry into a covenant with God where we dedicate our life to following His plan for us. Baptism initiates a lifelong commitment to live, as St. Paul says, in the Spirit, not in the flesh – rejecting godless ways and worldly desires – to live moderately, justly, and devoutly. That’s what our Baptism is all about: emptying ourselves of material wants, then loving as Jesus loved.
Our Baptism is about bringing the Light of Christ into this world. When we can do that – when we can bring Jesus into the lives of other people – we will be able to clearly see the plan God has for us and His creation.