At the beginning of all things, we see God’s spirit hovering over the water (Genesis 1:2). As the creation narrative unfolds, we see God’s intention to not only have creation structured by peace, but also by an abundance of goodness and mutual love. God’s created world was created with right living as its purpose. It was created for righteousness.
The Hebrew word for spirit is ‘ruach’, which can also be translated as breath and wind. It is through ruach that God brings creation into existence and breaths life into all living things. Just as when we speak, we cannot separate our breath from our words. This is also true with the one true God. It is through divine breath that all God’s words are spoken. In reality, God’s spirit, God’s character, God’s essence are tied to every word God speaks. Words of creation, words of life, words of covenant, words of command, words of wrath, words of mercy, and words of love. The ruach of God is tied to the word of God. It is no mistake then that we believe it was the word of God that was made flesh to be fully God and fully human in Christ Jesus our Lord. The Word through which all things were created (John 1). God breathed the first word over creation to bring peace and order to chaos and formlessness. Through Jesus, God breaths the Word to end all words in order to establish peace and righteousness over a creation that has been thrown into chaos and formlessness by sin. Jesus is God’s final word over creation.
Perhaps this is why John the baptizer is said to “deter” Jesus in verse 14. He understands Jesus to be the one who has come to baptize the world not with water, but with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11). Jesus is the fullest expression, the epitome of the fruit John is demanding to see in keeping with full conformity to the will of God (Matt. 3:8). John thinks that Jesus then should baptize him rather than he baptize Jesus. Jesus however commands to “let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). Through this, Jesus declares unto the entire world that righteousness only comes through an unswerving commitment to God’s will. Therefore, Jesus submits to the chaotic waters of baptism in order to become one with God’s will for righteousness.
As soon as Jesus leaves the baptismal waters, we see an immediate approval from God over what just occurred. The heavens open revealing God’s intention for Jesus. Just as we see in last week’s and this week’s texts from Isaiah (42:1; 60:1), the spirit of God descends on Jesus as an affirmation of equipping and sending a servant of righteousness into the world. Moreover, this is not just any servant of God; this is the Son of God. God’s Word made flesh. Here in the river Jordan, the spirit of the creator is made one with the Word as the created. With this profound revelation from heaven, chaos and formlessness do not stand a chance. Peace, reconciliation, and righteousness will be victorious now and forever through Jesus Christ.
This is the christening of Jesus as the Christ; our messiah. As Matthew writes on, we see Jesus, the Word of God filled with the Spirit of God, bringing order to chaos, remission of sins, and establishing righteousness in order to reconcile all the world to God. This is why we see Christ as the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega. As it was in the beginning of all things, is now, and will be forever through Christ Jesus our Lord! Our congregations need to be invited into this radical good news. For Christ calls those who would be His disciples to make His mission their own! Through Jesus, we can commit ourselves freely to the will of God and we inherit the gift of righteousness.
In our western world so defined by relativism, individualism, and pluralism, we need a call beyond ourselves to the truth of God that surpasses all other truth claims. We need voices calling us to be unified together under the story of God, above any other competing narrative in our word. This might be a prudent time to look forward to pentecost, when the church was given the Holy Spirit and commissioned to shine the light of Christ into all the world. Through the Holy Spirit, we as the church can proclaim the Word of God and participate in bringing peace, reconciliation, and righteousness into a the chaotic and formless parts of our world.
May the commitment of Christ to God’s will made through his baptism also be taken up as our own through our baptism as the church.