Reading: Luke 3:15-17,21-22

[New Living Translation]

15  Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to
know whether John might be the Messiah.  16  John answered their questions by
saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater
than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie
the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with
fire.  17  He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing
fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his
barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”
The Baptism of Jesus
21  One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized.
As he was praying, the heavens opened,  22  and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form,
descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my
dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”


1. Think prayerfully about:  What labels and/or titles have you been given by other people that they believe describe you as a person?
2. A voice from heaven declared Jesus as Beloved. “When I think that being God’s beloved is the core of who I am, it makes me feel…”
 Blessed
 Ashamed
 Guilty
 Conflicted
 Speechless
 Other

3. Henri Nouwen wrote, “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved.’ Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular
World.)  Do you agree or disagree with Nouwen’s statement? Explain.
4. How is John the Baptist a model disciple?
5. How does John the Baptist characterize the ministry of the “one coming” after him?
6. Why is the phrase “and was praying” (in v. 21) important to what happens in the story?
7. Think prayerfully about: What does it mean to be a beloved child of God?
8. Can you remember your Baptism? If you can, Who was there? How old were you? How meaningful was it for you? For your family? For the church community?
9. Reminder for the week: Find a way to remind yourself that you are one of God’s beloved children. This might mean placing a sticky note with the word “beloved” on your bathroom mirror or as a wallpaper on your computer or home screen of your cellphone that reminds you that you
are beloved of God.

Have a blessed week,
Rev. Tim Rist

1 With thanks and acknowledgement: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship-planning/love-never-ends-being-the-body-of-christ/epiphany-baptism-of-the-lord-year-c-lectionary-planning-notes/epiphany-baptism-of-the-lord-year-c-small-groups