The Baptism of Christ: Aligning with God’s purpose
The baptism of Jesus, which is a principal (in fact, the key, in the Eastern Church, the key) event of Epiphany, is commemorated in the Western tradition on the Sunday following the Epiphany Day (6th January).
Ordinarily, in view of the reason for John’s baptism (a sign of repentance –Mat. 3:6-10; Mk 1:4-5; Lk 3:3-14), it would not make sense for Jesus, Who was sinless (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22) to be baptised. But there is God’s purpose to be fulfilled in Jesus’ baptism. It was used to present Jesus as the only Person whom God had appointed to fulfil His purpose for people. At His baptism, Jesus received the bestowal of the Holy Spirit and the Father’s approval/introduction (Mark 1:9-11). The approval was conveyed in the words (“You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” Mk 1:11), which brought together two important OT messianic references. By this, Jesus’ Messiahship is presented in a radically new way, in which the ruling Messiah (Psalms 2:7) is also the Suffering Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 42:1). Most Jews thought of the Messiah as a ruler, who would establish the kingdom of God. They did not think he would have to suffer for the people. But God has His purpose and plans, which are to be realised in the ministry of Jesus.
The baptism of Jesus marked the beginning of His ministry. Before launching out, He was assured of whom He was and what particular task God had given Him. Quite unlike Jesus, many people, today, are not sure of their ministry or God’s purpose for them in this life. Yet, they move about and operate aimlessly and without purpose. Some may even be doing exactly the opposite of what God intends for them, in both their ministries and general life. Those who launched out into their ministry without first hearing specifically from God need to go back to God for a clear directive on what to do and how to go about it. Jesus was able to withstand the Devil’s temptation on how to go about His ministry because he was very sure of what God wanted Him to do. The same temptations of revisionism, hedonism mammonism, Satanism and flamboyance are everywhere now, and those who are not sure of their ministry will easily succumb and derail.
Also, as we start the year and decade, we need to hear from the Lord and receive the directive and direction. As we set forth in the journey into the New Year, we need a Divine roadmap to navigate well and be in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing and daily advancing the ultimate purpose of God for our ministry and life. God is God of order. He does not do His things anyhow, but set order for Himself. He sets a goal and charts the course to bring it into effect. It is, therefore, in our interest to identify God’s purpose for us and align ourselves with it, otherwise, we will be swimming against the tide. God holds the whole world in His hands and orders its affairs. He always has a plan and purpose, which he works out. As Arthur Ainger put it in his Hymn, “God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year.” It is dangerous to be ignorant of God’s purpose.
• The Venerable Dr. Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC, is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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