Now when all the people were baptized . . . (v. 21).
When someone asks us to identify ourselves, we often respond with the externals: where we work, what teams we root for, who our family is, where we worship. If we strip away our factual information, however, we’re left with the essence of our identity.
Our baptism is an outward, visible sign of the inner reality we claim. Baptism demonstrates who we are and what we do. Our true identity rests in being one of God’s beloved children. As part of this family, we share God’s mission to offer the love and grace we find in Jesus. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we see him being present with those on the edge of the society who are looking for a second chance. God always offers new beginnings.
While we find it tempting to judge people by their externals, Jesus sees their heart. When we dismiss the broken as those who deserve their fate, Jesus walks beside them to show them the next first step to a new way of living. Jesus knows that people need someone who will identify with their pain, accept them wherever they are, and love them into new life. Jesus doesn’t separate himself from those who need him. Through his baptism, he immerses himself into their dreams of a new beginning.
After his baptism, Jesus prays. As he does, the Spirit in the form of a dove descends upon him and a voice from heaven blesses and identifies him: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (v. 22). These words commission Jesus to bring good news to all. They strengthen him as this same Spirit leads him into the wilderness to be tempted. These words lead us to understand our own identity as children of God—accepted, known, loved, and called.
What reminds you that being God’s beloved child is your primary identity? How do you show others that they are God’s beloved children as well?
God, you call us your Beloved. Keep us faithful to our calling. Amen.