Biblical stories about baptism are connected to, but also at odds with, historical theology about baptism as well as the current liturgical practices of baptism. Reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism together with contemporary theologies offers a glimpse of the radical solidarity of Jesus.
*This post originally appeared on the Politics of Scripture January 2, 2017.
Matthew’s careful quotation of Isaiah 60 urges us to perceive that the birth of the poor, brown boy in a back corner of the Roman empire was the dawning of God’s glory upon humanity. Let us, then, celebrate—not with fear and self-preservation, but with confident investment in human flourishing.
The season of epiphany moves us from a season of indulgence, to a season marked by gift giving that honors God. What kinds of gifts do we give? And how do these gifts honor God by honoring the dignity and agency all of God’s children?
Epiphany is a story of a baby who, in the time of King Herod, despite all the principalities and powers that continue to overpower and oppress in our world, offers a different hope.
Biblical stories about baptism are connected to, but also at odds with, historical theology about baptism as well as the current liturgical practices of baptism. Matthew’s account of Jesus’s baptism gives us a helpful window into the reality.
Herod was scared of a newborn baby. This basic fact of the Epiphany story bears the key to understanding its political implications. Herod’s fear reveals something of the anxiety that accompanies absolute power. In the political context of the Roman Empire, which supported Herod’s control of Judea, the continuance of power depended on the political elites capacity to convince people.