In the Gospel today, the Baptism of the Lord, we see Jesus approaching John to be baptized. Many Jews, who practiced ritual purification several times a year, had already been baptized by John and others would continue to do so until John was arrested by Herod. The reading from Matthew states that “John tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized by him, stating “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me.”
When thinking about this reading this morning, I could see Jesus approaching John. John recognizes Jesus for who He is and kneels before Him , then makes his statement. Jesus raises John to his feet, looking intently and with love into John’s eyes, and says “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Thinking about the scene this way shows a more intimate connection which is established between Jesus and John the Baptist. I can hear the voice of Jesus – kind, quiet and loving.
John, in his mother’s womb, was touched by the Holy Spirit, and recognized Jesus in Mary’s womb. To merely state that John didn’t want to baptize Jesus without making a sign of worship to Him, seems odd to me. After all John has said to the Pharisees who had come to question him, that he was not “worthy to untie the Messiah’s sandal.” I know that the writers of the Gospels wrote only what was necessary to tell their story. They leave to us an opportunity to meditate on the encounter with Jesus in this story and others.