The question of what led to people speaking of him as the revelation of the divine, requires us to look deeper. And of course that is normal. We meet someone, are attracted to them, and we seek opportunity to learn more that lies behind the external appearance. We observe, ask questions, converse.......to look deeper.
And so it must be with Jesus. Throughout his public ministry his story tells us so much more. Different events, different teachings, different conversations, all keep expanding the story. His baptism offers us a special opportunity.
It is worth recalling a philosophical question sometimes pondered. Do humans really have free will? Humans are human and all have certain propensities, but more is to be considered, our nature is complex. On birth our slate is not necessarily clean. We are the product of human and family history. Before long we are building our own story which displays a narrowing of characteristics as we learn our best way to behave. Yet even such a story must consider the context of our living.
Our race and society establishes a culture with laws, expectations, understandings, common beliefs and behaviours all of which influence the way we live. And yet we are not robots or clone’s all acting in the same way. We do have a myriad of options. We have choices we must exercise. Sometimes we are impulsive and instinctive, but other times more thoughtful and considered.
What we learn from Jesus about his place within this picture is that he accepted it was his life to live as he chose. Like all humans he had choices to make and he exercised this responsibility. His life was not simply a spontaneous reaction to whatever appeared. He was a man with vision. He thought about it and made choices that best represented what he regarded was its purpose.
Jesus determined that he found greatest meaning and purpose in relation to God. By careful consideration he determined that God at its centre was the ultimate human experience. Opportunity arose on John the Baptist’s appearance near the river Jordon to consolidate his vision and his devotion to God at its heart. John called people to repent and turn to God, a decision to be consolidated by baptism in the water of the Jordon.
Alongside his fellow humans he embraced the opportunity to declare that he placed God in its centre. Over time, there was much that was added to this early picture. It opened the pathway that ultimately led to Jerusalem, the cross and beyond.
With each step, Jesus not only pursued his beloved Father, but his devotion enlightened us to a unity of being between his heart and mind and the divine. This was the unity that shaped his nature. The insight of this unity with the father is so well described in the profound passage of John 17. These few verses are just a sample of the sentiment of the whole chapter.
‘I pray that they may all be one. O Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I in you. I gave you the same glory as you gave me, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one.’
The earliest Christian communities established their belief that Jesus was divine.
The Christian story has encouraged its followers to emulate the way of Jesus. No wonder when we read his declaration
‘I am the way the truth and the life.’
Yes there is little we really know of Jesus in his first thirty years of life, save understanding that he was deeply reflecting upon an understanding of his own life. He was dreaming of a redeemed humanity and a vision for how he was going to fulfil his role within it. In his baptism he dedicated himself to fulfilling that dream. In our baptism we embraced his vision.
The challenging question before us now is whether we are really devoted to living his dream of a humanity living in a loving unity.