This morning I read the story of Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3).
My ‘sermon outline’ would look something like this:
Man: Jesus comes as a man. We know about his parents. Here he encounters his cousin.
Messiah: The Spirit descends, the Father speaks. Jesus is different. He is more than just a man. He is God’s Son.
Mystery: The picture of doves and voices from heaven is not ‘normal’. The super-natural Jesus that Matthew presents cannot be fully understood.
Ministry/mission: This is the start of Jesus’ ministry/mission. He is tempted, preaches, calls his disciples, heals sick people and crowds start to follow him (Matthew 4).
‘Coming out’ brings two images:
‘Coming out of the closet’: Previously shut away and out of sight, a ‘skeleton’ hidden in the cupboard’. A personal secret is now revealed.
The debutante’s ‘coming out party’: The young upper-class woman makes her debut. Formally presented to society as an adult she is eligible for marriage. There is a new public identity.
‘Coming out’ often refers sexual orientation or gender identity. Teenagers tell their friends or family that they are gay or lesbian. This may be a single event, or a process of disclosure over a period of time.
However, ‘coming out’ can refer to any individual publicly disclosing what has previously been secret.
Jesus ‘Coming Out’
At his baptism Jesus’ identity is revealed. It is the start of a process. What was secret is becoming public.
Previously he was Jesus, son of Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, cousin of John the baptiser. A small man from a small place.
Now his new identity is being revealed – a prophet, rabbi, story-teller, miracle-worker, advocate for the poor and friend of sinners. He draws crowds, and gains fame, popularity and notoriety.
Jesus is ‘coming out’.