The Gospel text for this Sunday, the first Sunday after the Epiphany, always deals with the baptism of our Lord. This year the focus is on the Gospel according to Luke, and that perspective is significantly different from the others.
I think it is safe to say that the baptism of Jesus is important in all four accounts of Jesus’ baptism. In the Gospel according to John, the baptism of Jesus is barely mentioned, but it is the same with many other things of Jesus in that account. I think it is significant that the WITNESS of John is emphasized in that account: ‘And John bore witness: I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit [John 1:32-33].”’ Many important things are clearly emphasized in the three similar accounts (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and these important things are emphasized in a slightly different way in the Gospel according to John.
In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus’ baptism is of course mentioned, but this is the only account where the baptism of others is prominent and mentioned right before the baptism of Jesus. And it is not just a few people who are being baptized. It is interesting how the writer relates the event.
‘Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased [Luke 3:21-22].”’
Did you catch the ‘all’? Do you remember where you heard that recently? The angel said to the shepherds, ‘…I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people [Luke 2:10b].’ Simeon blessed God and said, ‘…my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples…[Luke 2:30-31].’
It is nice that this gospel writer gently leads us away from asking historical questions about Jesus to some practical issues about this so-called ‘Savior’. Jesus did something significant that was connected to ALL people. That includes you.
So, it sounds to me like we again see Jesus in the text to be like the obedient ox. He is doing his job; he is leading the way. All the people were baptized; Jesus was baptized; something special happens to him…. And I hope you would want to know how that story ends.