Mark 1:9-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."
Epiphany is a feast, and it is also a season when we are shown Jesus as true God and true man. This is particularly true this Sunday, as we remember the Baptism of our Lord. There are many who would skip over this event, because it is not always easy to understand. You see baptism is always about washing, and since Jesus was without sin, why would he need to be baptized? Children often ask a similar question, why do I need to wash my hands, they don't look dirty, which works real good to explain why they didn't wash behind their ears, because they couldn't see any dirt there either. But we wash our hands not only for the dirt we see, but also on account of the germs we don't see - in the same way, baptism is not only for the sins everyone can see, but it is also for the sins which only God sees, the ones in the heart, the ones committed only in thought.
Our text tells us everyone was going out to be baptized by John, the faithful and even the hypocrites - and then Jesus is baptized, and it is as though in this act he takes on himself all the sins of the whole world. Its what Isaiah was talking about when he wrote: Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.
Jesus takes up our sins, and carries them all the way to the cross, and from the cross having paid our debt, he forgives us. Jesus baptism is not only the beginning of his public life, but a very important event in his work as our Savior.
At Jesus baptism, the heavens are opened, the spirit descends, and a voice says, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased." This tells us who Jesus is, the Son of God, our Savior, who has opened again the gates of heaven. And it is good for us to know that God so loved us to send His son to be our Savior - it is good to know that he understands the troubles we've seen - and it is even better to know that not only does he understand, but he is able to help.
But there is so much more to it - for Jesus baptism is a promise to us about our baptism - for baptism is not something we do for God, but rather it is something God does for us - for when we are baptised, God washes away all our sins, the heaven is opened, the spirit descends to work faith in our heart, and to live with us, with our heart as a temple of God - and last of all, God speaks those special words to us, that tell us of our new relationship with him: "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."
Jesus baptism is important, because it shows us why we should daily remember our baptism, and daily rise to the new life, as a child of God. Not only are we children of God, but each day, God richly grants us the grace forgiving all our sins, and grace to live life as a child of God. What a precious gift, and glorious promise, are ours in Christ Jesus.