Scripture: Luke 3:15-16, 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. 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."
Meditation: Do you want to be on fire for God? John the
Baptist said that the Messiah would "baptize with the Holy Spirit
and with fire." Fire in biblical times was associated with God and
with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God
sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the
burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses
(Exodus 3:2). The image of fire was also used to symbolize God's
glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17),
his holiness (Deuteronomy 4:24), his righteous judgment (Zechariah
13:9), and his wrath against sin and evil (Isaiah 66:15-16). Fire
can also be a sign of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit
(Matthew 3:11-12 and Acts 2:3). God's fire both purifies and
cleanses us, and burns within us a passionate love, holy desire,
and reverent fear (respect and awe) of God and his word.
Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire
Jesus came to give us the fire of his Spirit that we may radiate the joy and truth of the Gospel to a world in desperate need of God's light and truth. His word has power to change and transform our lives that we may be burning lights pointing others to Jesus Christ. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Do you want the Lord's power, grace, and love to burn brightly in your life? Ask him to fill you with his Holy Spirit.
John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). Why did Jesus, the Sinless One, submit himself to John's baptism? In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the "baptism" of his bloody death upon the cross. Jesus' baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God's suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father's will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God?
Jesus' baptism - beginning of a new creation
The Father proclaimed his entire delight in his Son and spoke audibly for all to hear. The Holy Spirit, too, was present as he anointed Jesus for his ministry which began that day as he rose from the waters of the Jordan river. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all who come to believe in him. At his baptism the heavens were opened and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, signifying the beginning of a new creation.
Heaven will open for those who bow before the Lord
How can we enter into the mystery of Jesus' humble self-abasement and baptism? Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 AD), an early church father tells us: "Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him." Do you want to see your life transformed in the likeness of Christ? And do you want to become a more effective instrument of the Gospel? Examine Jesus' humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in your heart. As you do, heaven will open for you as well.
The Lord Jesus is ever ready to renew and refashion us in his likeness through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit - and he anoints us for mission as ambassadors of his kingdom of righteousness (moral goodness), peace, and joy (Romans 14:17). We are called to be the "light" and salt" of his kingdom that radiate the beauty and aroma of his mercy and goodness to those around us (Matthew 5:13,15-16). The Lord Jesus wants his love and truth to shine through us that many others may may find new life, freedom, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with his Holy Spirit that you may radiate the joy of the Gospel to those around you.
"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and with the fire of your love and goodness. May I always find joy and delight in seeking to please you in doing your will just as you have delighted in the joy of pleasing your Father and doing his will."
1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy array.
3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, upon many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful, the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
9 The voice of the LORD makes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forests bare; and in his temple all cry, "Glory!"
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king for ever.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The divine - human reconciliation, attributed to Hippolytus, 170-236 A.D.
"Do you see, beloved, how many and how great blessings we would have
lost if the Lord had yielded to the exhortation of John and declined
baptism? For the heavens had been shut before this. The region above
was inaccessible. We might descend to the lower parts, but not
ascend to the upper. So it happened not only that the Lord was being
baptized - he also was making new the old creation. He was bringing
the alienated under the scepter of adoption (Romans 8:15). For
straightway 'the heavens were opened to him.' A reconciliation took
place between the visible and the invisible. The celestial orders
were filled with joy, the diseases of earth were healed, secret
things made known, those at enmity restored to amity. For you have
heard the word of the Evangelist, saying, 'The heavens were opened
to him,' on account of three wonders [appearance of the eternal
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together at the baptism]. At the
baptism of Christ the Bridegroom, it was fitting that the heavenly
chamber should open its glorious gates. So when the Holy Spirit
descended in the form of a dove, and the Father's voice spread
everywhere, it was fitting that 'the gates of heaven should be
lifted up.'" (excerpt from THE DISCOURSE ON THE HOLY
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.
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