Jesus the Trailblazer
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too.
Why would Jesus get baptized? This whole baptism thing was a symbol of repentance, a u-turn away from sin and brokenness and into following after God.
Throughout the gospels and the Scriptures that follow, the authors are adamant that Jesus is without sin and that he never turned away from God.
So why does he need to get baptized? This has been the source of many nerdy books over the centuries, some by critics of Christianity to discredit the understanding we commonly have about Jesus: “See! Jesus knew himself to be a sinner like everyone else!”
But the truth of the matter is much different from that.
Jesus plays two roles in the cosmos. He leads in the ‘downward movement’ from heaven to humans. He is the star witness to the character and nature of God because he is God incarnate, God who puts on flesh and moves into the neighborhood.
But Jesus is also the perfect Adam, the great high priest, who leads humans into God’s presence. He is the one who mediates our prayers, offers the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and leads humanity into the throne room of grace.
Jesus is the lead human, in many ways living the life that every image bearer was meant to live and redeeming and restoring us back into our place in the cosmos that we were made for.
Jesus gets baptized as the perfect human in order to establish the trail head for broken humans like you and me to find our way back into the presence of a perfect and holy God. Later on, Paul will write that there’s only ONE baptism: Jesus’s baptism. We don’t have our own individual baptisms, we are baptized into Jesus’s baptism and we share in his.
What we see with Jesus is not only the God-humanward movement (is that a word?) but also the human-Godward movement. With every breath, every word, every action, Jesus is fighting back all the thorns and thistles that have blocked our path back to God. And it starts publicly here, with his baptism.
Spend just a minute meditating on Jesus as the one re-blazing the trail back to God here at his baptism. What do you think it looks like to walk the path he cleared out for you today? What different would it make today at home, in your work, in your relationships to live as one who has struck upon this trailhead in your baptism and is walking down the trail that Jesus blazed for you?