John’s baptism was all about confession, repentance, and forgiveness—none of which Jesus himself needed. But he does not set himself above us, superior in his sinlessness. Instead, he submits himself to baptism, identifying with us precisely in our weakness, our need, our chaos. When Jesus comes out of the water and the Spirit descends and the Father speaks, the whole Trinity is manifest to affirm that a great mystery is coming to pass in the life of Christ. In his baptism, Jesus pulls together the ancient stories of creation and exodus with his future death and resurrection which initiate new creation and new exodus. Just as life and order emerges from chaos, just as slaves emerge to freedom, just as Jesus emerges from the Jordan—so also the whole universe emerges from bondage to death and decay when Christ emerges from the tomb. In Christ’s rising, all things rise.
Read Mark 1:9–11:
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Ask God for the grace to know Jesus and claim your identity in him as a beloved child of God.
Jesus joins the crowd and is baptized by John, but with him something special happens. Stand in the crowd or in the water. See the dove alight on Jesus, and hear the Father's voice—not necessarily booming up above but nearby, seeming to come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Hear the joy and tenderness in his tone.
Notice how Jesus—who does not need to confess or repent—joins himself to the rest of humanity in baptism. Reflect on his humility, compassion, and his desire to be in communion with us.
Use the scene of Jesus’ baptism to have a conversation with each person of the Trinity. Hear the Father speaking to you: “You are my beloved child.” Talk with him as you would a proud and caring Dad, sharing all your joys and worries. Talk with Jesus as your brother, thanking him for his fellowship and asking his advice. Picture the Spirit as a dove, and ask for the strength and insight you need to know, love, and follow God more.