When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. As he was praying, the Holy Spirit descended on him … and a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” – Luke 3:21-22; 4:1 (NIV)
Immediately after his baptism, Jesus was led into a wilderness. There he struggled with a Tempter who tried to make him doubt the voice that named him Beloved Child. “If you are God’s son…”, Satan prefaced the temptations. But Jesus remembered who he was. There was no “if.” Assured of God’s approval and drenched with the Spirit, he blew the Tempter away.
Whenever the great reformer Martin Luther was in trouble, tormented, tempted, and afraid (he often was), he’d tell himself that he was baptized: “Baptizatus sum”—“I am baptized.” Over and over he’d remind his beleaguered heart who he was: a beloved child of God whose life was forever entwined with Christ’s. He said it blew the demons away.
I used to teach a class about sacraments. Every semester I found that many students didn’t know when they were baptized. Birthdays they knew, and other anniversaries. But not the day a voice from heaven called them beloved and their lives were forever joined to Christ’s. I encouraged them to find out and celebrate that gift.
And I hoped that whenever things got rough (they always do), they’d call on its grace. I hoped they’d remember that they are in Christ, fully known and loved. I hoped they’d remind their frightened hearts, “I am baptized.” I hoped it would make them brave and blow the Devil away.
By your grace, O God, I am known and loved. My life is joined to Christ’s forever. I am not afraid.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.