This is my favorite account of Jesus’ baptism. It is clean, simple, and includes all of the baptismal promises. What happened in Jesus’ baptism is just what happens to us when we are baptized. First, the heavens are ripped open – a rending of the barrier that separated people from God. Second, the Holy Spirit descended upon him. Next, God claimed Jesus as God’s own. Finally, Jesus is sent into the cold, harsh world, but fully equipped to face the temptations that may come. The first Christian baptism.
John’s proclamation of this event is timely and appropriate. “The kingdom of God has come near.” If we are to understand God’s kingdom as both heaven and earth, then Jesus’ baptism is indeed the beginning of God’s kingdom coming near. Jesus’ arrival marked the beginning of a new world – a world that is turned on its head – lowest become high, first become last, and God reigns. “Believe in the good news.” God is here!
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”