First Sunday after Epiphany January 10

Reader: “John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,” 

Response: “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” 

Scripture:  John 1:29-34

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts: 

We just passed Epiphany a couple of days ago. There are three themes that are associated with this day, one of which is the baptism of Jesus, which is celebrated the first Sunday after Epiphany. People have asked me, “Since Jesus was perfect, why did he need to be baptized?” That is a perfectly logical question. John’s baptism was for the repentance of sin, yet Jesus was sinless, so why the necessity? In subjecting himself to baptism, Jesus openly took the sin of all people upon himself. He fully embraced his humanity. He placed, as it were, himself upon the altar as the substitute for our sin. In submitting to John’s baptism, he shows solidarity with a fallen human race and becomes our Redeemer and Reconciler. Jesus’ baptism was also an affirmation of the validity of John’s baptism ministry. His baptism indicated to his Father in heaven his embracing of the mission he came to do, a task that would involve great suffering and death. It is Luke who tells us that as Jesus was being baptized, he was praying and communing with the Father, the heavens opened and a dove came from heaven and rested on him, an affirmation from the Father. In the Scriptures, a dove symbolizes purity, innocence, and loveliness (dove’s role in Noah and the Ark Gen.8:9-12). In fact, throughout the Bible, God on different occasions revealed himself in a visible shape to humans. There is the cloud in the desert, the glorious light hovering over the Ark of the Covenant, or the tongues of fire at Pentecost. An additional word here may be helpful. That the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descending upon Jesus, did not mean that the Lord Jesus was not previously filled with the Holy Spirit. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and filled as a human from conception. The baptism is a public declaration of his Messiahship. This event marks the beginning of his public ministry. Remember the baptism occurs right after his temptation by the devil. God the Father declares a wonderful affirmation, “Thou art my beloved Son in thee I am well pleased.” On two other occasions the Father spoke words of encouragement in relation to Jesus’ mission on earth. One was at the Transfiguration when Jesus was talking with Moses and Elijah about his upcoming “exodus” from the earth (Luke 9:28-35) and the other one was when Jesus was talking to a crowd during Holy Week about his upcoming sacrifice and God thundered from heaven (John 12:28-29). To me, these affirmations from the Father indicate how close was the Father and the Son’s relationship during Jesus’ time on earth. These words of encouragement also underscore the humanity of Jesus. Humans need to be affirmed and encouraged in their calls to ministry. Think about it, Jesus’ mission was understood by no one on earth, not even the disciples! How lonely would that be? It was only after the resurrection did people begin to get it and even then, many people still rejected Christ’s work of salvation, even as they do today. You can begin to see how crucial was John’s baptism of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

 Music: “Baptized in Water”     Chris Brunelle


Dearest Lord Jesus, when we begin to try to comprehend what it must have been like to leave the glories of heaven, where you had been for all eternity, and willingly humble yourself to become a human being, we must confess, we have no idea what that was like―and even that is an understatement. We wonder about the under-the-breath  remarks made to Mary and Joseph about your “miraculous birth” and the snide comments behind their backs. What must it have been like being the big brother among your brothers and sisters? Even at twelve you were about your Father’s business and no one understood, not even your earthly mom and dad. Virtually your whole life here, people were often confused as to what you had come to do. When you died there was but a single convert and he died within minutes of confessing you. Your life and mission seemed a complete defeat and yet . . . you defeated death, the devil, evil, and paid with your life blood for the sins of the entire world. We say the words, believe the words, trust the words, and try to grasp the wonder of what you have done. We simply fall to our knees with heads bowed low in deepest gratitede for your sacrifice. We love you, Lord. Our language doesn’t have the words to express our hearts. You are our singular hope of eternal life in your presence. Glory to you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.                                                           ―Daniel Sharp

Sunday, January 17       Look for the next devotional next Sunday and each Sunday between now and Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17th