I have heard the story retold over and over again. I've imagined the scene in my mind thousand times. I heard it frequently and early enough in my young life that very early on I created pictures in my mind to match the story. Even though I made up the images, I memorized the faces. Every time I hear the story, I see the same faces in my mind. And the same setting too, again my own creation.
It plays out exactly the same way every time I hear the story. Scruffy John, dressed in dark colors, baptizes Jesus, who in my mind of course, is dressed in light colors. The sun is high in the sky and reflects in the water. Jesus goes under. The water ripples. God is pleased and sends a dove to light on Jesus. Actually, it was the Holy Spirit that was sent like a dove. But even with that mysterious element, the picture was still clearly etched in my mind.
Not that what has played out in my head has been wrong. It's just that now, even after all this time and all those re-runs, I discovered a missing piece that has changed the whole picture for me. I always thought Jesus being baptized as a servant and beginning his official "ministry" here on earth was what pleased God and brought on the Holy Spirit. Yes, but that's not the whole story.
Look for yourself, right there in the third chapter of Luke. Jesus was PRAYING when the Holy Spirit came down on him. Praying. No wonder God was pleased!
Prayer. It's how and why the power of the Holy Spirit comes to earth. Excuse me, please, I have some things I need to go and talk to God about!
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."