At the Jordan River, St. John the Baptist baptized thousands of people with a baptism of repentance. Repentance, or metanoia, was an 180-degree turn from sin. So what happened to those sins that those people left behind? Symbolically, the repented sins remained there, in the waters of the Jordan, after the people rose out of the water.
Along comes Jesus, Who had no need of Baptism. He had no sins to wash into the water. Some Scripture scholars have pondered Jesus' action there in the River Jordan, and the deep relationship between Jesus and His cousin, John. Despite John's protests, Jesus told John to go ahead and baptize Him for the sake of righteousness (Mt 3:15).
What John didn't understand beforehand, but may have grasped afterwards, was that Jesus took upon Himself at His Baptism in that same Jordan river all the sins that had been "left behind" in the water. Jesus is present in the waters of Baptism. When we are baptized, Jesus has already entered that water to take all our sins upon His shoulders, to pay the price for all sins, including ours, on the cross.
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2017 through January 31, 2018.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, March 3, 2017.