Today, people are Baptised in Churches as a sign that they have joined God’s people.

It was different in Jesus’ day. Circumcision was the Jewish equivalent to our Baptism.

Baptism was administered as part of the process of bringing a non-Jew into the Jewish faith.

Yet, John the Baptist was baptising Jews. These people were aware that they were separated from God by their wrongdoing. In submitting to Baptism they were recognising that they were no longer part of God’s people but wanted to come back to God by turning away from their sins.

John’s Baptism recognised this. But he or the Baptism he administered, couldn’t secure forgiveness of people’s sins or give them the power they needed to live for God.

John pointed to Jesus, who could bring forgiveness of sins through His life, death and resurrection. Jesus could also give people the power to live for God by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

At His baptism Jesus, who never did wrong so had no sins to repent of, identified with sinful people who wanted to make a new start with God.

At His Baptism Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit. Jesus already had the Holy Spirit because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was given in the Old Testament to equip individuals to serve God for a particular task. Jesus was being anointed for the task of being the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one who would save God’s people from their sins. It was after his Baptism that Jesus began His public ministry.

At His Baptism God the Father affirmed His love for Jesus, His Son, and confirmed that He was pleased with what He was doing. That Jesus was beginning His public ministry as the Messiah.

So, how is Jesus’ baptism relevant for us today?

It reminds us that we all sin, and we need God’s forgiveness and the power to live for God. We can only receive that forgiveness and power through what Jesus has done & by the work of the Holy Spirit.

As we start 2018 let us turn back to God and turn away from our sins. Let us thank God for the forgiveness and power that are ours through Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Our Acts 19 reading featured people who thought they were Christians but had not heard of the Holy Spirit, verse 2. Let us not fall into that error. These people were in Ephesus. Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians, 5.18. “Be filled and go on being filled with the Holy Spirit”. Let us open ourselves up to God’s Holy Spirit and ask Him to come into our lives. It doesn’t matter if this is for the first time or the thousand and first time. We all need to receive God the Holy Spirit constantly to enable us to grow in our love and knowledge of God, to live for Him and serve Him.