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Friends, today’s Gospel tells the story of the baptism of Jesus. The first thing we must keep in mind about the baptism of Jesus was that it was embarrassing. Here is the one that the first Christians maintained was the Son of God, the sinless lamb who takes away the sins of the world, the Word made flesh. So why is he seeking a baptism of repentance?

There is no way around it: John was working in the country north of Jerusalem, along the banks of the Jordan river. And his theme was unambiguous: repent. Those who came to him were coming to have their sins dealt with; they were admitting their guilt.

As is usually the case with the Bible, there is an irony in the fire. Before ever a word passes Jesus’ lips, he is teaching, in fact communicating the heart of the faith, by this stunning reversal. In this gesture, God lays aside his glory and humbly joins us in our sinfulness, standing with us, assuming our burden.