Opening prayer –
Begin by praying this prayer.
O God our Father, at the baptism of Jesus you proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized into Christ faithful to their calling to be your daughters and sons, and empower us all with your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Part 2: Jesus’ Baptism
While most people know the story of Jesus’ birth, we actually know very little about Jesus’ childhood. The Gospels of Mark and John include no stories about Mary and Joseph and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke include only a few bits of information. All four of the Gospels, however, include the story of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. In the waters of baptism, Jesus’ identity is confirmed by the voice from heaven and the Holy Spirit descends upon him. Jesus’ baptism marks the beginning of his public ministry. You can read the accounts of Jesus’ baptism from each of the four Gospels using the links below. If you want a more visual (and humerous) version of the story, check out the Lego Baptism of Jesus. The baptism begins at the 2:10 mark.
Part 3: Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness
Following Jesus’ baptism by John, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where Jesus was tempted by the devil for 40 days. During his time in the wilderness, Jesus faces and overcomes temptations that often prove problematic for people in the world – the temptation to disobey God if that is what you feel it takes to meet your basic needs, like food, the temptation to do whatever it takes to have power and wealth, the temptation to put God to the test instead of relying on faith. Again, you can read the story of Jesus’ time in the wilderness using the links below or if you want a more visual version of the story, check out the “Anime” style version of Jesus’s Baptism and temptation in the Wilderness.
Part 4: So What Does this Mean?
John’s baptism of Jesus is different than the other baptisms John is performing in the wilderness. Instead of being a baptism of repentance, Jesus’ baptism is a revelation of who Jesus is to the public and marks the beginning of his ministry. Jesus receives the Holy Spirit which descends upon him in the form of a dove and he hears a voice from heaven proclaiming him is as God’s beloved Son. After his baptism, Jesus goes immediately into the wilderness. Jesus’ time in the wilderness is a time of preparation for the ministry he is called to do. Jesus removes himself from the world and invests time in prayer and fasting. The temptations he faces provide an opportunity for Jesus to affirm his relationship with God and his power over Satan. Once Jesus emerges from the wilderness, he begins to preach about the kingdom of God, to teach and to call people to follow and to heal and cast out demons.
In the waters of baptism, each of us is claimed as a child of God and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Across our lifetimes, each of us faces temptations to turn away from God, to embrace the priorities of the world, and to put God to the test. The baptism of Jesus and his temptation in the wilderness are wonderful reminders that through Jesus, God came to be with us fully – to experience the ups and down, of life in the world – and to help us to know that we will always be with God and God will always be with us.
Discussion Questions – answer the second and third questions below:
- Ask you parents about your baptism. What do they remember about that day and about what it meant to them to have you baptized?
- If you had been one of the people standing on the shore when Jesus was baptized, how do you think you would have responded?
- At times, all of us face temptation. How do you find strength and help when you are tempted? Do you turn to a person (family member, pastor, friend), is there a passage of scripture that is helpful or is that something else that is useful to you?
Part 5: Conclusion & Closing Prayer
Closing Prayer – Pray the follow prayer at the close of the session.
Lord God, our strength, the struggle between good and evil rages within and around us, and the devil and all the forces that defy you tempt us with empty promises. Keep us steadfast in your word, and when we fall, raise us again and restore us through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.