Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Sunday, March 1

Jesus came from Nazarus of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, 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.” And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
—Mark 1: 9-12

If I had been in charge, the baptism of Jesus by John in the River Jordan would have been nothing like Mark’s account. The dove would have descended, people would have been gathered on the shore watching, and there would have been much rejoicing. It would have been grand and glorious, a triumphant service, much like a baptism in the church today. But that’s not what God had in mind.

Instead, just as Jesus is baptized, as the Spirit descends and Jesus hears, “You are my beloved,” the Son of God immediately goes to the wilderness. He doesn’t take time for a retreat, reflection, or break.

Instead Jesus goes straight into the difficulty of life, embracing the wilderness for all that it is and all that it claims from him.  Instead of having a baptism that launched a new freedom from all that life could throw at him, baptism brought the reality of life in its fullest humanity.

Because Jesus goes immediately from baptism to wilderness, we likewise see that our lives may not always be celebration. Even so, the beauty of the baptism and the challenge of the wilderness experience remind us that Jesus endured and endures all things with us.

Indeed, if I were in charge I would not have written the narrative of Jesus’ life as God did. I would have left much more room for celebration following the baptism—a luncheon, a party, a gathering of friends. Instead, God gave us a real Jesus; a Jesus who knew and knows the pains of life.

Thank you, God of wisdom, that you are the author of Christ’s story.