“Food for your journey.” It is what was said to me as I took communion at a retreat in San Antonio, Texas. It was a very emotional and moving service at the end of a very spiritual weekend.
The bread and juice were food, yes, but that was not the food to which the leader was referring. The communion elements represented the spiritual food that the weekend retreat had given me.
In the same way, our denomination believes the bread is not really the flesh of Jesus and the wine is not literally the blood he shed. We do it in remembrance of what was really going on.
So, now we have John the Baptist talking about baptism. What has John been doing? Who is coming? What will Jesus do when he comes? What does verse 12 mean to you?
This event can be seen as a change in what baptism means. Traditionally it had always been a ritual act of cleansing. Sins were washed away. But now, Jesus comes to be baptized (see Matthew 3:13-17). He has no sins. He does it to “fulfill all righteousness,” to obey the laws of the Jewish faith.
Many people still view baptism as an act of spiritual cleansing, a ritual to remind us that God, through Jesus, is washing away our sins. Others see it as a ritual that reminds us we are marked by God and claimed as new people, people belonging to God. When Jesus was baptized he was filled with the Holy Spirit and he began his ministry. When we are moved to start a new journey, to really dig in at a new ministry, we can remember our baptism and know that we are made new, claimed by God, and given a new spirit.
DAILY CHALLENGE: Do you feel called to start a ministry?