Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Epiphany. Each time God manifests himself we speak of that event as an Epiphany. Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan by John is a second Epiphany in this season.

The text of Jesus’ baptism is taken from the Gospel of Mark. Mark is the only book in the Bible that announces itself as a “Gospel” (Mark 1:1), the ‘good news’ about Jesus. There is no word in Mark’s Gospel about the birth or youth of Jesus. He starts right in with this ‘good news’ of Jesus’ baptism as the beginning of his ministry. It is the fulfilment of the “messenger” promised by the prophet Isaiah (40:3. Malachi 3:1

Baptisms in our country are predominantly a family celebration unlike a wedding which has a more social celebratory focus.  Today’s baptism has the Blessed Trinity in attendance; THE Father, THE Son and THE Holy Spirit; this is a family celebration and we are drawn into the embrace of the three persons of the Trinity to be joined in this family celebration.

The text of today is loaded and we need to listen carefully to its message. We are told that Jesus was coming out of the water when he SAW the heavens TORN APART and the Spirit descending LIKE A dove on him. And a VOICE came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.

The dramatic revelation comes “from above”. First, the heavens are torn apart. The heavens are rent open to indicate that Jesus belongs in the divine realm. The word “torn open” (schizo) used of the heavens occurs again at the crucifixion in Mark 15:38 when the temple curtain is “torn apart” at the moment when Jesus breathes his last, implying a connection between the baptism and crucifixion.

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