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When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too.—John’s was a baptism of repentance, so why did Jesus come to be baptized? Repentance means to “change my mind” or to “think again” and the practical application of repentance is to turn away. John had been calling people to turn away from the sin of the corrupt Jewish establishment and turn back to God. Certainly Jesus is baptized out of an obedient heart. Perhaps Jesus is baptized to consecrate himself for his upcoming ministry. It seems that Jesus is also baptized to join the people in their repentance. Jesus comes with all of humanity; with all us sinners. He doesn’t separate himself as he should. He identifies with humankind and participates with us as we turn away from our sin and turn instead toward the Father.

And as he was praying—What happens next is because Jesus is connected to the Father in prayer. The Holy Spirit comes down upon Jesus as he obeys and prays. Now there are two words fairly foreign to 21st century American Christians. Jesus doesn’t “say a prayer,” Jesus prays. I mean he doesn’t have a moment when he says a few words to God, Jesus communes with God in deep conversation. Jesus lives in relationship with the Father. As he is going about his business, as he is being baptized, he is in prayer. This level of connection is the context in which Holy Spirit comes.

heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.—Holy Spirit comes in physical form so that we would be sure about what is happening here. Something completely new is taking place: the Spirit of God is coming to rest upon human beings! Yes, the event is spiritual, but it had never happened before so Holy Spirit wants to make sure we don’t miss it. What makes Christianity distinct is that God himself comes into me in order to transform me from the inside out. Humankind has not the power of self-transformation; we have not the power to overcome slavery to The Liar. But Holy Spirit does and God wants to make sure I know this. Holy Spirit comes to me as it came to Jesus, and this is what makes all the difference!

And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”—This voice isn’t for Jesus, this voice is for humanity. Jesus is approved by the Father. Jesus is representative of the Father. Jesus speaks the words of the Father. We have a word from God himself and it comes in the form of Jesus. Jesus pleases God. If I desire the same, I simply need to follow the model Jesus provided.

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