14 January Devotion
Readings: Mark 1: 4-11
As humans, we are always engaged in a series of associations and disassociations. What happens, for instance, when a person is introducing him/herself to another? Well, normally one would choose very carefully what to say and what not to say; what to include and what to exclude: one might mention where he/she went to school but avoid mentioning where he/she were brought up; or maybe mention who their pastor is but avoid mentioning who their father is. Like a sound engineer carefully adjusting the different knobs on a sound mixer in order to get the best sound, we similarly adjust the association/disassociation knobs to come across in the best way possible.
Today’s reading is about the account of Jesus’ baptism. It must be an important event since all four evangelists include it in their gospels. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. People from different walks of life came to acknowledge their sins and pledge to live a new life of obedience. But why would Jesus need to be baptized? He has no sins to repent of. Jesus’ baptism, in fact, was an act of association with us and particularly with our sins. While counterintuitive for the holy to be identified with sinners, this was not the first time. God has always associated himself with his people: he is the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” the “God of Israel,” and the list goes on. In incarnation, God was showing his unfailing love to humanity by assuming their very nature. In his baptism, Jesus does not distance himself from our sin, but rather associates himself with the muck of our fallenness. In Christ, God associates himself with us “to death.”
God’s association with us and our sin is not out of necessity, but rather out his free choice. A well-known theologian once said, “the God who is god without us chose to be God with us.” How reassuring it is to know that God is persistent in choosing to associate himself with us.
Heavenly Father, at the Jordan you revealed Jesus as your Son: may we recognize him as our Lord and know ourselves to be your beloved children; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.