Defining Moments: Week 2
This is the second week of a six part series we are calling Defining Moments. Defining Moments are brief experiences, so brimming with meaning that they bring definition and clarity into our lives.
Today we are looking at a Defining Moment in Jesus’ life from the gospel of Mark. During Christmas we’ve been celebrating the defining moment of Jesus’ birth. But the birth of Jesus is not found in the gospel of Mark or in the gospel of John for that matter. His birth is only found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Mark begins his gospel with Jesus’ baptism by John the baptist. Jesus comes from his hometown of Nazareth in Galilee where he’d been a carpenter all of his life and at the age of thirty responds to John’s ministry. He travels about a hundred miles south of his home to a remote portion of the Jordan River, tucked out in the Judean desert, just above the Dead Sea.
And when he gets there he wades into the water and John takes him under like everybody else. In Mark’s gospel, John doesn’t announce Jesus as anyone special. But when Jesus comes up out of the water, the thin curtain that separates heaven and earth is pulled back. The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father says, “That’s my son whom I deeply love; I’m so pleased with him!” This is one of the few times in Scripture where we see all three members of the Trinity interacting, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is a defining moment which confirms that Jesus is the Son of God who has been sent to Earth by the Lord.
The Father and the Holy Spirit reveal the identity of Jesus, the Son. God the Father speaks directly to humanity, which happens only one other time in the gospels. The Father is very concise and tells us the main thing we need to know about Jesus: this is the Son of God.
Also the appearance of the Holy Spirit fulfills the prophecies of the Messiah where several times in the bible we read that the Spirit of the Lord will come upon the Messiah and rest upon him.
Jesus’ baptism is a defining moment both for those who witnessed it, and heard his identity announced, and for Jesus himself because it is a turning point in his life. It marked a new direction for him, the beginning of his public ministry.
Jesus is baptized by John, not because there’s sin in his life that needs to be confessed and forgiven. There isn’t any sin in Jesus’ life. Instead, Jesus is baptized to both reveal his true identity, and because he’s identifying himself with John’s message that it’s time to turn back to God because the kingdom of God is near. King Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, is in the house.
And that’s what baptism is to this day. It’s our way of identifying ourselves with Jesus and his message of the kingdom. The good news of the gospel is that the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the creator of this world has arrived on the scene and his work of healing, restoring, and renewing God’s creation has begun.
Jesus is in the process of making everything new, and that process starts with us. Jesus came to make you new, and me new, and he does that when we are baptized and confess we believe that he is the Messiah, the son of the living God.
Through our baptism we become new creations of God and that is good news! When you were baptized you became a new creation in Christ, and nothing, or no one, can ever change that! But you have to live it out through your faith-filled life, living the way Jesus teaches us to live.
I see an analogy between baptism and wedding rings. A wedding ring does not mean a person is faithful, nor does it ensure that a person will be faithful, but it is a symbol of a person’s commitment and faithfulness, so people wear their wedding rings with pride. Likewise, our baptism doesn’t mean that we are faithful in our commitment to the Lord, nor does it ensure that we will be faithful, but it is a declaration of our intention.
Baptism is one of the key defining moments in your life because it identifies you as a Christian, and as a son or daughter of God the Father, a brother to Jesus Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit. How incredibly powerful is that in you!
For many of us here, the issue isn’t whether or not we were baptized, but that we have been baptized with no real commitment to Jesus. I also accept responsibility for times in my life when I have failed in my commitment to the Lord.
But I renew that commitment here today, and I call upon you to renew your commitment, renew your faith and renew your relationship to Jesus.
I am going to call on you today to make a declaration of your faith that includes renewing your baptismal promises to God. This can become a defining moment for you today. Once you declare your faith, you are declaring a real commitment to Jesus which includes a commitment to share him with the world. That is what being a Christian is all about, not just talking the talk, but walking the walk and sharing the good news of God’s love, sharing Jesus with others.
We are also going to give you an opportunity to share just a bit of Jesus with others today (tomorrow) through our three conversations right after 9:30 and 11:30 Masses over in our parish life center which is the two story building on the other side of the parking lot.
If you prefer, you can also join our 3 conversations online. Just go to our website, saintmary.life, and click on the 3 conversations image. You will find the online link there. Online will start about 10:45am today (tomorrow). Our three conversations are just that, three simple conversations that take no more than 1 hour, three Sundays in a row.
What do we want you to know today? Jesus’ baptism was a defining moment that helped give direction to his life once he reflected upon it. We too have these moments.
What do we want you to do today? Two things: 1) Sincerely renew your baptismal commitment today. 2) Join our 3 conversations today. You can share Jesus with others, connect with your defining moments, understand them better, and learn of others’ defining moments through our 3 conversations. Come join us after 9:30, or 11:30 Mass, or join us online today (tomorrow).