John was baptizing, and Jesus was in the crowd. I appreciate what Luke is doing. He is about to tell us about how Jesus is the son of God, living among us in the flesh, and going to the cross to save us from our sins. First, though, he tells us about Mary and Elizabeth and the shepherds and John the baptist, etc. He introduces us to a crowd who are people just like us. Then, in the third chapter, he gives us an actual crowd. People gathered each day to be baptized by John for the repentance of their sins and to prepare them for the Kingdom of God, which was soon to come. And in this crowd of people just like us, he gives us Jesus. What’s Jesus doing? He’s getting baptized and praying. Like everyone else. See how Luke has put you and I into the water with Jesus?
Luke 3:10-14 is a Q&A session between John and the crowd. We are asking him questions about repentance and how to live a life that is fit for the coming Kingdom of God. “Change what you do,” is the Baptizer’s response to every question. There must have been hundreds of questions being shouted at John every day and he gave a specific answer to each person’s situation. What we have in Luke is a grouping of these inquiries; we have what John said to those with two shirts (the middle-class people), tax collectors, soldiers, etc. And Jesus was in the crowd with us that day. What did Jesus ask?
“John, I have been a humble carpenter in Nazareth all these years,” I picture Jesus saying. “And yet I know I am called for something more.”
“Yes. You are called to baptize people with the fire of the Holy Spirit,” John says. “Just as I have baptized them with water for repentance.”
He may have added that Jesus should go into the wilderness and reconnect with his vocation — that is, his calling from God. He may also have told Jesus to leave and gather his own disciples. John had his disciples — people who stayed with him after he had baptized them. Some of them ended up following Jesus.
So, take a moment now. Think of a time, perhaps long ago, when you were praying. Perhaps asking God regarding what to do next with your life. Perhaps seeking to repent of a less than fulfilling lifestyle or profession. Did you get an answer to your question? Have you lived as a disciple of Jesus? Have you remained true to the promises of your baptism?
Luke tells us how Jesus gets confirmation of his baptism by a dove coming down from heaven and the voice of God telling him that he is uniquely God’s son. Your baptism was probably less dramatic. Remember, remember this day, that you were once in the water with Jesus.