This first Sunday of Lent, we read Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism. I thought it interesting that only after Jesus’ baptism did he see the Spirit descend and hear the Father’s voice proclaiming his identity as “my Son, the Beloved.” So, in a sense, Jesus is “dying” to his identity as simply the carpenter’s son, or the guy from Nazareth, or Mary’s oldest boy or whatever it is that identified him as himself to others (and maybe even to himself)—and he is rising to his identity as the Beloved Son of God, the One with whom the Father is well pleased.
And how interesting, too, that after he receives this new identity, the Spirit drives him into the wilderness, away from all people. Perhaps he needs some time alone, just him and the Father, to understand what this identity means, to let the reality of who he is settle into the very depths of his being, so that nothing and no one—not Satan who comes to tempt him, not the prospect of dying a humiliating, pain-wracked death, not even the sense that the Father has abandoned him—can alter his belief that he is the Beloved of God.
I wonder, at the beginning of another Lent, if that’s the point of the season: we need our identities to be rooted in God’s steadfast love for us, and in order to fully embrace that identity, we need to let go of a lot of other identities. This image of baptism—dying to our old selves and our old identities and rising to our new identity as the beloved children of God—gives me a visual and visceral way of entering into the season. What are the identities I have? And how much do I rely on them to define who I am, instead of relying on my identity as God’s beloved daughter? Oh let me count the ways…
This Lent, I want to enter the waters and stay in the wilderness until I know, really know, that I am the beloved daughter of God, until nothing anyone says or does to me can change that deeply held belief. I know. It’s a lot to ask in 40 days. But I hope to at least create space for God so when He speaks those words from Heaven, I’m present and listening.
Read it for yourself
The lectionary passages for the first Sunday of Lent are:
1 Peter 3:18-22