John baptizes Jesus


Baptism of Jesus – Jay Bonnell, 20th c.

Luke 3:21-22

During a general baptism of the people, when Jesus too had been baptized and was praying, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove; and there came a voice from heaven, “Thou art my Son, my Beloved; on thee my favor rests.”

Dove: How is the Holy Spirit like a dove?

Thoughts on seeing the whole pictureDonna Ross

How does the Holy Spirit work?

From the gospel writers to artists through the centuries, the Holy Spirit has always been portrayed as a dove. The dove, however, is always and only a metaphor. No words, no images can ever fully convey how the Spirit works.

In the Temple, when Jesus was twelve years old, the question may have first alighted: What did God have in mind for him? That’s how the Spirit begins to work in us (stirring within us, planting questions in our minds).

In Nazareth, as Jesus grew up, the ideas may have shifted in his mind: Where was God leading him? That’s how the Spirit continues its work in us (in conversation with our traditions and communities, our new experiences and new ideas).

In the Jordan, as Jesus rose out of the waters, the immensity of God’s call must have filled his mind, and pointed him towards his future ministry. That’s how the Spirit continues its work in us (hinting at the shape of things to come).

Sometimes, in moments we will never forget, we also are fully aware of the Spirit descending, even resting on us — like a dove returning to her nest, making her home in our hearts.

That’s how the Spirit works.

From Wonder to CertaintyDave Baldwin (Luke 3:21-22)

At first, it was pure wonder. It all began
in the Temple at Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve.
The thought stirred lightly: that God might have
extraordinary hopes for him, a special plan.
Wonder simmered for a long time while he grew
in wisdom and in years in quiet little Nazareth.
Wonder opened wide when the son of Zechariah
baptized Jesus. In that moment, Jesus knew!
He was in the water praying with arms wide
to the world (in an unintended foreshadowing) when starry
shards of light filtered down from above
and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove
and a gentle voice confirmed the wonder, “You are
my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Dove:

A dove settles lightly wherever it chooses to rest. The Holy Spirit also settles lightly upon us, calling our attention but never forcing us. At his Last Supper (see John 14:16f and John 16:12f), Jesus will use these words to describe how the Holy Spirit works: abides in us; makes a home in us; reveals Jesus to us; reminds us; teaches us; guides us; reveals the truth to us; gives us peace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *