Out in the wilderness, where the voice of one told them to go, John the Baptizer – the one who wore funny clothes and ate weird things, like bugs — told all who would listen, “You haven’t seen anything yet. I baptize with water – the Great One baptizes with the holy breath.”
And so it happened that the Great One came from Nazareth – now everyone knows that nothing good comes from Nazareth – at least that is what everyone says about that little Podunk boarder town.
Yes, it was the Great One who came to the Jordan to be baptized by the one who said that he was not worthy to be his slave.
And this Great One, who knew no sin, who had nothing to repent, who had nothing to confess, received John’s baptism that day in the Jordan River.
As the Great One – Jesus – was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens RIPPED apart – not parted calmly but RIPPED open by God’s holy breath.
God BLEW OUT heaven!
God breathes God’s holy breath into the world as a dove – and a voice is heard – you are my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.
And nothing is ever the same again.
With this one act, baptism becomes more than washing away sin, more than repentance, more than just fire insurance.
Jesus’ baptism brings the power of the Holy Spirit – the Holy Breath and that changes everything! It changes everything because it brings a special relationship with God.
It brings hope because if we have a baptism like his, we have death like his and we will have a resurrection like his.
It brings grace. At his baptism, God said to Jesus, with you I am well pleased – literally translated, it means, “I think well of you.” In other words, God not only loves us, he LIKES us, too. There is total acceptance.
It brings identity – “this is my son” as God said. In our baptisms we are redeemed, named and claimed and are called children of God. God calls us by name and calls us beloved.
It brings blessing. God told Jesus you are my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased. And we have worth because God has too called us beloved and God holds us in such high regard.
God gives Jesus his blessing to go out into the world and do what he has been called to do. God gives us his blessing too, to go out into the world and do what we are called to do.
That day on the banks of the Jordan River, God blew out of heaven. And he never went back. Breathing in the world, the Great I AM – whose unpronounceable name that when attempted sounds like breath itself, the heavens never closed back and the dove didn’t ascend.
God blew open heaven to be a part of our world. No longer could God be separated from God’s people.
And the One who called, named, claimed and sent Jesus is the one who calls, names, claims and sends us.
And this is the One who breathed holy breath and created the world, made something out of nothing.
And this is the One who breathed holy breath and raised Jesus from the dead.
This is the same One who breaths holy breath into us, giving us life.
The One who promises to never abandon us and love us and accept us always and still as beloved children – even when we have a hard time loving and accepting ourselves.
And God’s never going back. God is not leaving and that’s a promise. God is with us in our tears. God is with us in our joy.
In the spiritual “I don’t feel no ways tired” James Cleveland sings “I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me.” May we always sing praises to the One who brought us too far just to leave us – Emmanuel – the With Us God. The One who blew out heaven!