John the Baptizer had been praying for God to step in and take over the world. And this is how his prayer got answered: Jesus showed up and followed an upside-down script. Instead of taking over the world, he let this conflicted world overtake him, he gave himself into the world’s hands, and then rose into the life of God’s Beloved.
That’s the story of Jesus’ baptism. Jesus showed up, and instead of taking over John’s ministry and baptizing John, he gave himself into John’s hands, submitted to John’s baptism of repentance, and then rose into the life of God’s Beloved.
So in a way, this story of Jesus’ baptism is also the story of Jesus’ whole life.
And Jesus’ followers eventually realized that this is also the story of God’s whole life. Instead of taking over the world, God is giving God’s very self into this conflicted world’s hands, suffering its worst, and yet rising to transform even this world’s worst into new opportunities for reconciliation, so that all of us—friends, family, strangers and even enemies—can share the life of God’s Beloved. That’s the life God has always lived and the life God is living with us now. Jesus made it a visible, tangible life, and that’s what his followers are summoned to do—keep making it visible, tangible.
Maybe you remember when you were baptized, or maybe you don’t remember, or maybe you were never baptized, at least not with water. But all of us are sharing in the baptismal life of God’s beloved whenever we stop trying to be in control and instead risk giving ourselves into one another’s hands. When we dare to do that, we make God’s life, and Jesus’ life, visible, tangible. Let’s keep daring that.