Baptism of the Lord C
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
The baptism of Jesus by John is described in all four Gospels yet it was problematic for the early church. Why should the one proclaimed as Messiah, the greater one, be baptised by this prophet, the lesser one? Why should the sinless one need a baptism of repentance with sinners? If one regarded power and salvation according to common understanding these would be issues but Jesus’ form of authority and his way of salvation is so radically new, that even in his description of the baptism, Luke points us in this new direction. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is described as emerging from the midst of the people – one of them – to receive baptism. Immediately after the story of the baptism, Luke gives his version of Jesus’ genealogy. Unlike Matthew’s which stops at Abraham, this version goes back to Adam, who is son of God. Thus, in two different ways, Luke stresses Jesus’ identification with common humanity. Between these occurs the proclamation of Jesus’ unique filial relationship with God: “You are my beloved Son.” This happens not when Jesus is being baptised by John. (In fact, John isn’t even said to be explicitly baptising Jesus.) Rather, it occurs when Jesus is at prayer – that special practice that makes a person receptive to the power of God. The voice from heaven reminds the reader of God’s manifestation to the people in the desert. The dove recalls the Spirit brooding like a dove over creation in Gen 1:2 and the sign of hope after the flood, Gen 8. The words spoken over Jesus remind the reader of Ps 2 – a messianic Psalm and Is 42:1 – the beginning of the First Servant Song.
Thus, in his positioning of this event and the language he uses, Luke identifies Jesus both as a son with sinful humanity and as the beloved Son of God. He proclaims Jesus as the Messiah, the one desired by John and the people, but also as one who is going to offer salvation in a way that is differs from their expectations.