The in-breaking

Next Sunday is the The Baptism of the Lord in Year A. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” 15 Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. 16 After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him. 17 And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:13-17)

The story of Jesus in Matthew 3:1–4:16 is bracketed by John the Baptist’s ministry.

  • In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea (and) saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (3:1-2).
  • From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (4:17)

John prepared the way for Jesus and his ministry. Where John’s proclamation is that the kingdom is “right around the corner,” Jesus announces that the kingdom is here in the person of the Messiah, the Son of God.  The “inauguration” of the in-breaking of the kingdom (kairos) into Time (chronos) occurs at the baptism of Jesus which serves as the occasion for the coming of the Spirit and the Father’s approval of his beloved son.

And all of this is then immediately tested by Satan (4:1) in the periscope that follows our text. There Matthew continues to show Jesus as the fulfillment of the Covenant – where Israel failed in the dessert, giving into temptation, Jesus is obedient and faithful to his Father.  Tested, Jesus then becomes the “new Moses” announcing far more that the promised land – announcing the presence of the Kingdom of God.

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