Can you remember that defining moment when you knew you had grown up? Was it a serious long-term relationship? Was it having to bury a loved one? What was it that defined your life, either earlier or later than you would have liked?
I remember sitting in an airport in Helsinki, Finland, in my early 20s with everything I owned on my back, unable to speak a lick of Finnish, and thinking, "Where am I going to sleep tonight?" In unknown places, in unfamiliar territory, ready or not, we often find out what we're made of as our circumstances gauge for us whether we've grown up or not.
In Matthew (3:13-17), Jesus' baptism is that defining moment: his first grown-up decision. Skipping right over Jesus' teenage years, the first choice we see the grown-up Jesus make for himself is to be baptized by John.
More than symbolic, Jesus' baptism lets us know whose side he's on — not just God's but ours. John the baptizer was calling the broken and the needy, those Jesus chooses to identify with — us. God may have chosen for Jesus to come in the flesh as a baby. But Jesus is now making his own grown-up decision: to be known as human, one of us.
With the proud smile of a parent, God watches Jesus' baptism and approves of his "big decision." Do you remember what people said about you? "Oh, that Maria, she's all grown up!"
I don't remember my parents' words, but I can still feel their embrace when I came home from living part of the year in Finland. Their decision-making had become my decision-making, and their pride was mine to own. They were pleased and so was I. I'm going to make it, I thought. Those words may have been similar to what Jesus thought when he heard God was pleased with him, right before he was led into temptation in the wilderness: "I'm going to make it."
Does it feel like you have some grown-up decisions to make? Hopefully you will find comfort in knowing that Jesus made hard choices too. He chose to be one of us, and it wasn't easy, but he knew he wasn't alone. Like Jesus, with God's guidance we can boldly say, "I know I'm going to make it."
© 2015 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers