The Baptism of Jesus
If baptism is important why is it not stated in the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed?
Mark 1:4-11: And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
The Baptism of Christ by Andrea del Verrocchio (1472)
Andrea del Verrocchio was the master teacher of Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo, at the age of 23, painted the kneeling angels. Several students contributed to this famous work of art including Botticelli and Credi. Leonardo’s angels bring life and spirit to the kickoff of the ministry of Jesus Christ with his baptism. What a powerful confession of faith for everyone involved in creating this masterpiece!
Luther: Luther in his sermon on January 6, 1534 preached: “At the Jordan, in his thirtieth year, Christ reveals himself fully for the first time. John is shocked by his desire to be baptized and says, “Shall I baptize you? I am not worthy.” But Jesus responds, “Be content; this is the way it should be.” The Son, who is without sin, allows himself to be baptized for our example and our comfort. He does something here that is not required of him, whereas we do nothing that is not required of us. More, we do what is evil. How will we ever get to the point of doing something not required? Christ is holier even than baptism, yet still allows Himself to be baptized. Thereby he institutes baptism. So those accursed people who despise or ridicule baptism are banished to the depths of hell. May God blight them and blind them, since they don’t have the ears and eyes to see what is going on here. Although they do not choose baptism, God’s Son does! Are we so arrogant that we should despise baptism? Even if it offered us nothing at all, we should honor baptism simply for Christ’s name’s sake, and be baptized to honor him. But [something is offered]: God in heaven poured himself out when Christ was baptized.
John indeed saw that the heavens were opened. That was a sign that our Lord God holds baptism dear—baptism that was sanctified by the Son of God himself in his own body. The heavens, previously closed, are now opened, becoming a clear gateway and window for us to see into heaven itself. There is no longer a dividing line between God and us, for he has descended into the [baptismal] water. Isn’t this a great revelation? That is why we call [this festival] Epiphany, because God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has revealed himself with all his angels.The Holy Spirit comes like an innocent dove. Among all birds, the dove is known for its kind heart and lack of anger. Thus, the Holy Spirit presents itself in this friendly form. Here [too] there is no anger. 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.”