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"Purified in Baptism"

In today's Gospel we are reminded of how John the Baptist baptized our Lord Jesus in the Jordan River. Christ’s baptism is considered an important manifestation of God in the person of Jesus. John the Baptist says to the people that he has baptized them with water, but the One who is to come will baptize them with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8).

Our baptism is a sign of our sins being washed away. Maybe we wonder why Jesus, who was sinless, needed to be baptized. He was sinless but bore the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21). At first glance, even John was taken aback at Jesus' coming to him. John recognized his own sin and was aware that he was a sinful man, unfit to baptize the spotless Lamb of God. But Jesus coming to him showed His approval of John's baptism, bearing witness to it that it was from heaven and approved by God. He was baptized for our sake, not for His own. His baptism, like His death and resurrection, was an expression of God's grace toward sinful humanity. The baptism that John performed had a specific purpose. It has to do with repentance -- a symbolic representation of changing one's mind and going in a new way or direction. John prepared the way for Christ by calling people to acknowledge their sins and their need for salvation. Christ’s baptism was a purification ceremony meant to ready the people's hearts to receive their Savior. The voice from heaven said, "You are my Son Whom I love, with You I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11). I believe God is also saying this when we are being baptized. He says this to all who are in Christ. Even now, our hope lies in this. God has proven in Christ His love for us and His faithfulness to us. When we repent of our sins, we turn to a new way of living.

One significance of baptism is that it is an act of obedience and faith. In baptism the believer enters into the triune name of the triune God: the 'Father', 'Son' and the 'Holy Spirit'. So when we are baptized, we are also baptized into the baptism of Jesus Christ -- linked to Jesus’ sinless life and His death and resurrection on our behalf. We need to remind ourselves of the connection which each of us has through our baptism to Jesus Himself, and to the body of Christ. It is a connection with all of those in the faith, a bond that cannot be broken. Most of all, our baptism purified or cleansed us from everything that burdened our soul. Therefore, we must live a life according to the loving and forgiving ways of God. Thanks be to our Lord!

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