Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Verse 10 (NIV)
I very much enjoy baptisms. There was a short period of time that baptisms at our church were celebrated with lots of joy and vigor. Even the baptism of Keith “Cannon Ball” Taylor was a joyous event. Perhaps the power of God is not so very evident in those moments, but in every baptism the beauty and grace of the Trinity is fully present. In each event we hear the Father’s voice over a beloved child issuing a new decree of adoption, saying, in effect, “This one too is received into my family.” In each event the Spirit of peace and wholeness descends to give an ordinary human grace. Jesus accepts all sinners who come to baptism with repentant hearts. No one is too far gone. No one is out of his reach, shamed, or singled out.
The great reformation leader Martin Luther said that every morning Christians should wake up and remind themselves, “I am baptized!” It’s no wonder he also added, “Practically all the Scriptures point to the baptism of Christ.”
John the Baptist wanted Jesus’ ministry to feature fire and judgement. And there is some of that – mostly aimed at self-righteous religious people. But most of Jesus’ ministry is far different from what John or any of us might imagine. The Holy Spirit comes as a gentle dove and rests on the shoulder of someone gone astray. What a contrast to our own condemning assessments of people around us. Almost all of us are guilty of listing sin on some kind of graded scale and then using it to write some people off.
At the moment of repentance, Jesus claims us as his own and brings us home. NO ONE is out of reach of Jesus saving work.
Lord, we want to see you. We want to see you in power and majesty and strength, but also in gentleness and humility. In your name we pray. Amen.