Homily for The Baptism of Christ


Elisabeth Fisher – Licensed Lay Minister


On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry announces that the Lord is nigh; awake, and hearken, for he brings glad tidings of the King of Kings.

The Baptism of our Lord was in effect the beginning of his public ministry. John the Baptist proclaimed baptism as repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He baptised people in the river Jordan. They confessed their sins. John told them that one more powerful than he was coming who would baptise them with the Holy Spirit. Up to this point people had gravitated to John the Baptist but from now on they would turn to Jesus which marked the beginning of his public ministry.

For us baptism, as with the other sacraments, requires our response. It is the beginning of our lives as Christians which teaches us daily to follow through to the death and resurrection of Christ. Through baptism we embark upon a path of Christian teaching.

The sacrament of baptism is more than just a sprinkling with holy water. It inaugurates our lives as Christians. We promise that we shall follow Christ’s teaching. God calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light. Through baptism we respond to his call.  We turn to Christ as Saviour and trust in him as Lord. We are all one in Christ Jesus. We belong to him through faith. Though we are many, we are all baptised into one body, because we all share in one bread. We are exhorted to worship Christ with upright lives. It is right to give thanks and praise to the Lord our God. Baptism leads us through our sacramental lives following our promise to Christ our Lord. We are born again by water and the Spirit that we may be faithful to our calling as the Eternal Father’s adopted children.

Jesus allowed himself to be baptised as an example for his followers and to inaugurate his public ministry. It was an important point in his life. After his baptism in the Jordan the heavens opened, and the Spirit descended on him like a dove. “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ “The age of grace began. His baptism shows us that baptism is a means of being filled with the Holy Spirit of love. John was told: “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit.” This is the Son of God. For Jesus, the Spirit then immediately drove him out into the wilderness for forty days where he was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him. Here Jesus’ strength was challenged but he rose to the challenge and emerged from the wilderness to preach the gospel of God. His fame began to spread throughout the region of Galilee.

Throughout his ministry Jesus showed great humility. His greatness is marked by service and humility. Jesus’ public ministry began by his being immersed in water and it ended with his washing the feet of his apostles. The most humble of acts. Throughout his short life he advanced the good news of repentance and belief in the gospel of God.

Another hymn which we might have sung today had it been permitted:

When Jesus came to Jordan to be baptised by John, he did not come for pardon, but as his Father’s Son.

He came to share repentance with all who mourn their sins, to speak the vital sentence with which good news begins.