Jesus is baptised.
February 4th, 2002
Received by H.
My dear brother, last time I told you how Jesus had a pleasant talk into the night with his friend Nathanael, and how, after a refreshing sleep, he returned to Kpar Nahum.
You can imagine that inside Jesus waves of happiness and disillusion were churning, a tempest of heat and cold that put him into an emotional state, and he needed to talk to somebody. And so it happened that after a couple of days Jesus headed south. He chose the route along the river Jordan, a road he knew very well. He had traveled there many times with his father, when they journeyed to Jerusalem to attend the religious festivals.
But this time his destination was not Jerusalem but a place much more to the north, nearer the outlet of the river Jordan from the Lake of Genesaret than Jericho. It was a place that the Bible describes as a wilderness. There, amidst the wild vegetation of the Jordan valley, John the Baptist had established his camp, living his ascetic life with a few permanent disciples and many others who visited him frequently without deciding to stay with him, sharing his lifestyle full of self-denial and scarcity.
Enormous numbers listened to John on some days due to the crowded highway which passed nearby. And great was the Baptist’s fame, who only a few months before had begun to preach.
The Jews felt that something was going wrong. A foreign force occupied their country and its leaders were corrupt. The political tension grew, not only between the occupation forces and the people, but also amongst the people themselves. And suddenly, a prophet appeared, a man who walked with God, preaching repentance and attacking the bad habits and misdeeds of the powerful classes without mincing matters, and that attracted people. That was the situation when the cousins met again.
You already know the story: Jesus came to be baptized, to give a sign. John obeyed reluctantly, uttering his famous speech that he was not worthy of untying his sandals. Jesus and John spent the night seated near the fire, discussing what had happened. And on the following day, Jesus could return comforted and happy.
H.: I understand that there were no supernatural manifestations, such as the voice from Heaven or the dove that descended over the master’s head, for example.
Yes and no. There was no voice, but there was definitely the dove, which did not descend but rather flew high above the Master. It was something natural, but many people, hearing John’s words, took that as a sign.
H.: And was it a sign?
[Judas smiled] I will answer you with another question. Today you sent an interesting article to several people. And in that article you read:
It felt completely confused. Then I found a passage written by Bede Griffiths, a contemporary Benedictine monk. Griffiths relates that as a boy he went walking one night when suddenly he was charmed by the beautiful song of some birds. Their trills awoke in him senses he had never before used. All of a sudden, the world seemed to transform, he explains, as if he had come in front of “the presence of an unfathomable mystery that seemed to attract me toward it.”
There were neither burning thorn bushes nor chariots of fire. Only a soft revelation to which many would not have paid attention, but that changed Griffiths’ life forever. The mystic experience — I began to understand — was not the magical ascent to some remote paradise. It was a quiet and personal revelation that the miraculous and the mundane are one and the same thing, and that both are in front of our eyes.
And as soon as you had sent the emails, you found a bird in the living room of your house. When it saw you, it flew upwards, full of fear and desperation, to the first floor, and you, after opening a window, had some problems to get it out of that window. Was that a sign?
H.: I’ve thought it over, but on the other hand, it is not the first time that this has happened. However, it is very rare. It happens perhaps once a year that a bird gets trapped in the house and doesn’t find its way out. Well, I don’t know. Was it a sign?
If you take it as a sign, it is. What do you say?
H.: I was thinking that, if coincidence really doesn’t exist, perhaps that should get my attention. There is another paragraph in that article stating:
The book is finished, and I still cannot say that I found religion; but certainly, I have realized that the greatest and most fascinating mysteries are there to be savored, not to be resolved. Mystery surrounds us: we only have to be humble of heart and to pay attention.
You said it.
It is time to stop. I only want to add that some Bible scholars suppose that the ancient Christians thought that Jesus had acquired some part of Divinity at this baptism. This point of view is called adoptionism.
In some way, that idea is false, because Jesus had obtained this part of Divinity much earlier. He already possessed a fully transformed soul. But on the other hand, the event of Jesus’ baptism was very important, because it was then when the first disciples joined him. But of that, we will speak next time.
Until then, have a good day and God bless you.
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013