“The Way”- a weekly devotional
Gospel Lesson for the Baptism of the Lord: For Sunday, January 13, 2019
Luke 3:15-17, [18-20], 21-22
15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. 19 But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added to them all by shutting up John in prison.
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Do one’s homework in Bible study! Read before and after the passage! I can still hear seminary professors commanding us to be diligent. How else would we know what the scholars did this week in choosing what we should read? The actual assigned lectionary reading leaves out the italicized part of the passage about Jesus’ baptism!
I told children and parents last week in class that the most helpful question we can bring to a passage is “Why?” Why is it not there? Why was it left out? If we don’t use “why” we will miss the meaning of Luke’s story. We will just take it at face value and spiritual story should rarely if ever be taken at face value.
Luke was apparently bothered that Jesus subjected himself to a baptism by John of repentance from sin. So, by adding John’s arrest here rather than later in his gospel, he removes John from the scene. Jesus is just baptized with a whole crowd of people which could have been any baptism ritual in the Jewish tradition.
Without the paragraph though we are apt to assume that John baptized him and that was not Luke’s intent. The scholars take away from us the struggle over what Jesus’ baptism meant in relation to John’s baptism. It is one of the oldest theological issues of the church.
I don’t want someone else answering “why” for me. I want to wrestle with the Spirit and be filled with wonder. This is a good reminder to do be diligent in my studies.
Peace to you, Keith