Hi everyone and welcome to Thursday’s Podcast at STC. This weeks Podcasts are about ‘beginnings’ and today we continue our reflections in Matthews gospel with the story of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Yesterday’s reading was a challenge – today’s is reading is an amazing invitation! You can hear Matthew 3: 1-17 after the prayer and our focus verse is v11: He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Today’s reading has three main characters: John the Baptist, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. John’s baptism was symbolic, pointing to something else. Jesus, he said, would ‘baptise you with the Holy Spirit’ (3:11). This prophecy is then seen coming true when the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus as he is baptised (v.16), showing that he is the one John is speaking about and that Jesus is able to pour out this same Holy Spirit on you and me.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus is God, so he did not need to be baptised ‘for repentance’, and he was already filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s why John the Baptist was hesitant about baptising him (v.14) but Jesus said, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness’ (v.15).
Jesus identified with us at the very beginning of his ministry, his work on this earth. He did this to make a way back to God for all of us through his death and resurrection. Because of this we, like Jesus, can experience being baptised in the Holy Spirit. To be baptised is to be ‘immersed’ – the original word here means to be ‘plunged’ – what a great word that is! So how does this ‘baptism’ take place? Do I have to physically be immersed in water in a river or the baptism tank at STC?
To physically go into the water and be baptised is amazing and has a significant impact on those who do it. Adult baptisms at STC are truly amazing – to hear people’s stories, their confession of faith in Jesus, and then to see them physically go into the water is so deeply moving. We look forward to many more this term and next year – why not sign up to be baptised or reaffirm your faith In Jesus if you were baptised as a baby? Many do. The baptism John talks about here is a spiritual experience. So how do I I receive the Holy Spirit? Four simple steps.
1 RELAX. this is the natural and supernatural thing to do!
2 REPENT. Turn to Jesus. – give your life to him – ask for his forgiveness.
Are you thirsty for God? Remember, he is always waiting for you …
3 RECEIVE. His new life in you – flowing in & spilling.
4 REJOICE! If you ask, he will come! Give thanks that he has done what you have asked of him. This is a step of faith! ‘How much more will the Father give the Spirit .’
Two of my favourite quotes to end this reflection. Firstly from an amazing Pentecostal leader in the USA in the early 1900s John G Lake. He founded churches and healing rooms on the West coast of America. He said this: “The church has been negligent of one thing – she has not prayed the power of God out of heaven.”
Secondly, the great Northern evangelist Smith Wigglesworth (born in Menston Yorkshire) once said this: “If you want anything from God you will have to pray it into heaven. That’s where it all is. If you live in this earthly realm and expect to receive from God, you will never get anything.”
If you want deep spiritual foundations in your life as you follow Jesus – ask the Holy Spirit to fill you afresh every day; every day ask the Holy Spirit into your life; every day, this day, be baptised in the Holy Spirit… see what happens!
Lord, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit into my life this day to guide me into your ways and to strengthen me to live your life of love. Let your Spirit of kindness and goodness spill out from me to bless others. Amen
READING: Matthew 3:1-17
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.”’
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt round his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptising, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe has been laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
‘I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?’
Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’