Isn't Jesus already baptized?

Did you know…


. . .that Jesus was already baptized before the story from this week's gospel took place. You probably did, seeing as this story comes a full 12 chapter's into Luke's gospel, and his baptism at the hands of John the Baptist was all the way back in chapter 3. But if Jesus was already baptized by John, why was he talking about a baptism he couldn't wait to have?


Luke 12:49-51

Jesus said, "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!


Of course if we remember all the way back to that story of Jesus' baptism we could pick up on what Jesus might be talking about:


Luke 3:16

John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water, but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.


If Jesus has already been baptized by John in the Jordan river, then what kind of baptism could he still be expecting? It is an odd thing to say half way through the gospel of Luke to start talking about baptism again. But maybe the author of Luke put this story here for that very reason: to remind us of the baptism John promised that Jesus would bring. Is Luke's author saying, "Don't forget what John said, about the Holy Spirit and fire. I haven't forgotten and neither has Jesus!"


So, what does it mean that Jesus is still waiting to be baptized by this next baptism. We might think it is referring to Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit and fire are both present. And maybe it is. But Jesus isn't present at that baptism, since he'd already ascended and left the disciples to their own devices. So what else might it mean. In the context of the story, it might mean something more. Jesus says in the very next line he was come to bring fire to the earth, that he has come to bring division. Maybe the Holy Spirit and fire dwell closer to this moment than we think.


If Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire, and then tells the disciples that he came to bring fire to the earth, and that that fire is found in division between people, then maybe division is where Jesus expects people to be baptized by the Holy Spirit and fire. When we are faced with moments of fiery division, could we be receiving that baptism which John promised?

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