“And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. … And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God … And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! “ John 1:32, 34, 36
Happy New Year.
I know it is August. over 100 degrees, and California is on fire.
But it is New Years Day - exactly one year since the last day of this month with this number and a year before the next. Mark the year wherever you will because new life can begin any day!
Every year, against the backdrop of the Christmas story, we meditate upon John’s testimony to the significance of the Incarnate Word of God. The Spirit descends, the record is borne, and the Lamb of God is revealed.
It is a transitional moment of transformational power. The formative years of Jesus’ life are complete and the babe we left in the manger is now a man who knows who He is and what his mission is on earth is to be. It is the conclusion of the Christmas story and the beginning of a ministry that will culminate in His passion.
Jesus comes to John to be baptized and His baptism is a celebration of new life and new possibilities.
He stands with sinners though He has never sinned. He enters into the symbol of repentance for the sins that we have committed. He identifies intimately with humanity and in that act of identification, God sends forth His own Spirit to visibly and dramatically identify with Him.
It is a new day. In much the same way that we mark a new year with noise and celebration, God marks the ministry of Christ with John’s declaration, “This is the Son of God,” followed by “Look everyone! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World!”
The old is passing away. The new has come. From now on baptism will mean something entirely different and no one will need to be imprisoned in their despair of sin. New years had come and gone for centuries with their twin commemoration of the Day of Atonement. This was no mere new year. This announcement was of new life!
Happy New Life!