The baptism of Jesus is one of the most perplexing, challenging passages in the Gospels. We can shine a little light on it, but only if we’re willing to distinguish Jesus from God, recognizing God as the empowering agent who also marks with the Spirit as God’s beloved children.

Isaiah 42:1-9 The servant in whom God is pleased receives the Spirit, brings justice, heals the sick, and eventually suffers and dies. In this, the covenant with Israel shines forth for the good of the nations.

Psalm 29  The God who speaks at Jesus’ baptism the king who sits enthroned above the waters. God’s voice is powerful—and that power is bestowed on Jesus.

Acts 10:34-43 The arrival of God’s Spirit tells us that God has accepted, and celebrated, the people to whom it comes. This is true of those who believe the message as it was, first, about Jesus.

Matthew 3:13-17 Jesus begins his public ministry in solidarity with other people, and receives Spirit and power and sonship and divine approval that he will share in solidarity with us. 

 Daniel Kirk is a writer, speaker, and blogger who lives in San Francisco, CA where he is currently Pastoral Director for the Newbigin House of Studies. His third book A Man Attested by God: the Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels, is hot off the presses. Daniel holds a Ph.D. in New Testament from Duke University and is the author of, Unlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of God and Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul? He blogs regularly at  ( You can follow him on Twitter @jrdkirk and on Facebook at