Sunday 19 January: Matthew 03, 16-17 Matthew 03,16-17 (John 01,29-34) 03,16 And when Jesus had been baptised he at once came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. 03,17 And suddenly there was a voice from heaven, 'This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.' ContextJust before this event we heard that John the Baptist was preaching a baptism of repentance (translated more literally: a baptism of mind-set-changing) and those who were baptised confessed their sins. About Jesus we heard in the first chapter that he was the Messiah (Hebrew word for ‘Christ’/’Anointed One’: 01,01) and that he had been born of the Holy Spirit (01,20). InformationNow we hear that Jesus had been baptised. Did the Messiah, born of the Holy Spirit, need repentance, mind-set-changing, and confessing of sins? At the very moment that he has been baptised he is confirmed by a voice form heaven: ‘This is my Son...!’ So, what makes him Son of God? He shares life with the people who know that there is something wrong in their lives. They are aware of it and they long to be forgiven and to make a new beginning. They are the people to whom Jesus feels attracted. He will be found in their midst during his public life. That makes him Son of God. The heavens openedThe ‘heavens’ were the dwelling place of God, invisible for us humans. When they are ‘opened’ the mystery of God is revealed before our eyes. What do we see? The baptised Jesus. He is the revelation, the visibility of God! The Holy Spirit as a DoveThis image is a memory of two stories in the book of Genesis. First (01,02), ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, with a divine spirit sweeping over the waters.’ From that moment the new world comes forward. Is Matthew suggesting that the story of the creation is rewritten since Jesus?The other text is the story about Noah. There too we hear that a dove is hovering over the waters, a sign of a new beginning, of a re-creation of the world (Genesis 08,09-11). Picture Meditation In the centre of the picture we see Jesus at full length. John the Baptist and the people in the background are much smaller persons. In the circle of the heaven above Jesus’ head appears the dove, descending upon him. More: from Jesus’ head and over his body fine oil is dripping as it is written in Psalm 133:2, ‘It is like a fine oil on the head, running down the beard...’ The dove makes him the Anointed One, the Messiah. Do I see already the future marks of the nails in his hands?What it is my reaction/feeling seeing Jesus naked?What is the expression of Jesus’ attitude and his gesture? According to Matthew the people in the background came to be baptised. Instead of that they are gazing at Jesus. As does John. Could I be one of them? How do I look at Jesus? The greenery and the flowers on the bank of the river Jordan reminds us of Psalm 1:3, ‘Such a one is like a tree planted near streams; it bears fruit in season and its leaves never wither...’ At the end I have a talk with one of the bystanders, with John the Baptist, with Jesus.