Jesus, the only person who never needed to repent, was baptized with John’s baptism. A baptism of repentance. As is true for all baptisms, Jesus humbled himself to the support of someone else.
And the response to his obedience, to his humbling of himself, was the kind of thing many of us dream of. The heavens opened. A dove descended. The voice of God thundered.
The dove was, as Luke says, the Holy Spirit, in bodily form. The voice was the Father, speaking as a Father. And the thundering was not words of condemnation, but of affirmation. “You are my son. I’m proud of you.”
A hand on his shoulder, a voice of blessing.
It’s what we want, right? We want God knowing us and loving us and being with us and telling us that he’s proud of us? We want it and yet we are so afraid it the opposite. We’re afraid that God doesn’t know us, that he doesn’t love us, that he’s not with us, that he’s done with us.
I understand that fear. That constant looking over our shoulder, that constant fear of messing up, that constant fear of falling short. I get it.
But Jesus constantly spoke into that fear with words and actions of assurance. His last words before ascending to the Father were these: “I am with you always, all the way to the end.” As you are going, teaching what it means to follow me, I’ll give you power. As you are messing up, I’ll give you forgiveness through my death and resurrection. You can come and talk to me about it. As you are needing wisdom, I will give you the Holy Spirit, to give wisdom and comfort and patience and next steps.
And if we wonder how much Jesus is in this with us, how willing to identify with us he is, there is always this” He humbled himself to the baptism of repentance when he had NOTHING to repent of, to show us how to do it.