Again, I use Bishop Barron’s interpretation of the Gospel of Matthew 3:11-12 and 3:13-17
about who was John the Baptist and the reason Jesus was baptized.
John the Baptist
In the first case, Bishop Barron concludes that it’s really impossible to grasp the significance of Jesus without passing through the cleansing bath of John the Baptist.
Matthew tells us that John made us appearance as a preacher in the desert of Judea. Deserts are places of simplicity and poverty, places where distractions and attachments are eliminated - and hence where the voice of God can be heard.
Wealth, pleasure, power, honor - and all of their avatars and priests - are shouting at us, luring us, tempting us.
But what is God saying? We have to go to these silent and deserted places in order to hear.
Bishop Barron continues by asking what’s the first word that comes out of the prophet’s mouth?
“Repent.” This might be a dirty word to many people today, but it cuts to the heart of everyone of us, precisely because we all know that our lives are not where they are supposed to be.
We have all fallen into patterns of self-absorption and addiction.
“Repent” it’s a command to turn around, to start moving in a new direction...
The baptism of Jesus
Bishop Barron asks why does it seems strange that Jesus came to John the Baptist seeking baptism?
Because baptism washes away our sins which means only sinners need baptism. Yet if Jesus was a sinner, then he would not be God, and all of Christian theology would be undermined. So it’s a strange scene, and if the Gospel writers had any justification for dropping it out, they surely would have. But they all reference it in their accounts.
Interestingly, John the Baptist expresses the same confusion: “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus replies: “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”
So there’s the answer; but what does it mean? Fulfilling righteousness, in the Old Testament, meant something like “doing what God wants”, or “getting right with God”. In Old Testament times, this was our business, something we humans performed. But Jesus came to bring that to completion. From here on out, Jesus was intimating, God sets things right with us Himself, bending down under our hand and submitting to us.
Many of the early Church Fathers understood that by allowing Himself to be baptized, Jesus sanctified the waters of Baptism for all Christians who would come after Him.He went into the waters so we could join Him, arising as new creations. He raised Baptism from the level of cleansing rite to Sacrament...
José C. V. Cardoso