On the Baptism and Fasting of our Lord Jesus

Last time we talked about that all of us are precious members of the Body of Christ.

Today we will look into Christ’s baptism as found in Matthew 3:13-17:

‘Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”’

Jesus had decided to step into His ministry under the Father and the Father was well pleased with Him. The Father anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. In the same way, if we get baptised or if we afterwards repent to get cleansed of our former sins, and we decide to go do the will of our Father, the Father is well pleased with us. Then we are His children. Hilary of Poitiers put it like this: “We knew from those who were immersed in Christ [= Christian baptism] that after baptism with water [after publically humbling themselves, recognizing they have sinned and submitting to the Father] the Holy Spirit would descend to us from the heavenly gates. Then we would be filled with the anointing of heavenly glory and become God’s children through the adoption the Father’s voice announced;”[1] John the Evangelist also said this: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13). And Paul also said: ‘For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings [doing the will of our Father; imitating Christ in His sufferings during His life and at the end of His life] in order that we may also share in his glory’ (Romans 8:13-17).

After His water baptism wherein He publically submitted to His Father, Jesus was to also privately submit to His Father in order to prepare Himself for His ministry by means of fasting and overcoming various temptations: ‘Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matthew 4:1-11) (fasting & temptations). We are also invited to fast, to call a stop to our bodily appetites and selfishness and we are called to say no to temptations, to selfish ends and to the devil: “For since Adam met with luxury in paradise and, through deception, deteriorated to what is worse, it was necessary that the Holy Spirit lead Christ into the wilderness in order to enfeeble the devil’s force by someone greater in strength. So he fasted for forty nights and days.”[2]

Then he went about making disciples: ‘From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” [Repent: We are also invited to fast, to call a stop to our bodily appetites and selfishness and we are called to say no to our passions, to temptations, to selfish thoughts, selfish desires, selfish ends and to the devil. | for the kingdom of heaven has come near: You only have to do this to enter into peace between God and yourself]. As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him’ (Matthew 4:12-22) (preaching + calling His disciples). This we are also called to do as we will read in Matthew 28 but have we already said yes to the Father calling us, no to our bodily appetites, to our selfishness, to temptations, to selfish ends and to the devil and yes to the ministry of making true followers of Jesus; i.e. those that say no to the passions and yes to serving God / Jesus? ‘Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”’ (Matthew 28:16-20).

“Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” By means of His example, Jesus taught us to get baptized (or to repent), to fast and to overcome our own internal lusts, external temptations and the devil. Let us teach and do likewise. In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

[1] Hilary of Poitiers, On Matthew 2.6.

[2] Theodore of Mopsuestia, Fragment 17.