Daily Reformation, Mark 1:9-15
From the Reformer
The Son of God, who did not need [to be baptized], reveals himself to us not only as example but also as grace itself. The Father makes himself heard in the voice: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” It would not be surprising if the heavens and the earth shook before this voice, the speaking of our Lord God himself. If our Lord God spoke, I would fall on my face. But, for all that, the voice comes with nothing but kindness, grace, and mercy, saying, “There you have it: One who has been baptized!” So, do you want to know who [our God] is? He does not come with a sword, or with the noisy clamor of Sinai; he comes with nothing but the images and appearance of friendship. The Son is an innocent man who does more than is required of him; the Holy Spirit comes in a friendly form; the Father has a friendly voice: “I am not sending you prophets or apostles or angels; instead you have my Son, with whom I am completely pleased.”
So, we are commanded to look to the Son, for God did not shrink from saying to all of us: “Listen, all of you people: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” What that means is this: “If you want me as a gracious Father, that is quite easy: Hold fast to my Son. Hear and do what he tells you.”
—Martin Luther, Sermons, “This is My Son, the Beloved”: Sermon on the Baptism of Jesus
Pulling It Together
Why was Jesus baptized? Of all people! He did not need to repent, yet he was baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness. (Matt 3:15) The Rabbi embodied the requirement of the law for his disciples. Jesus showed them what to do by doing it. Very simply, he revealed to his disciples how to receive God’s grace. One does not do so by striving, fighting, demanding, or beating down the gates of heaven. Nor is God won by denying oneself, giving money to charities, attending religious services, or doing all the right doctrines. Cease striving and let God cover you with his grace. Do you want to accomplish great things for God? Let him first immerse you in his favor, making you acceptable to himself through his own work of grace.
It is not surprising that as soon as he was baptized, Jesus was driven into a lonely place and was tempted by the devil. We too, soon after we commit our lives to God, find ourselves wondering where God has gone and are bombarded with temptations. And we do not handle that wilderness as well as our Lord. At that very moment, we must remember that we are not baptized into our own accomplishments. No! We are baptized into his grace. Hold on to grace. Hold fast to Jesus.
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers