Scripture: Matthew 3:1-17
This Sunday we are looking at another one of those rare stories that appears in all four gospels, the baptism of Jesus. If you have even the most rudimentary understanding of baptism–or of Jesus, this is a moment that does not make sense.
I don’t know about you, but I was taught that baptism was for the forgiveness of sins, and I was also taught that Jesus didn’t have any sins. So, what’s Jesus doing being baptized? If you are wondering this, you are in good company because Jesus’ baptism really confused and offended John the Baptizer as well. When Jesus came before him to be baptized, John refused to do it saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, why are you coming to me?’ It makes it look like Jesus is confused about who he is and what’s going on here.
But of course, Jesus isn’t confused–we are. And that’s his answer to John, ‘it needs to be this way now, this is what will fulfill all righteousness.’ What seems right and righteous to us doesn’t to Jesus. In fact, the righteousness of Jesus is often unrecognizable to us.
Friends, there was nobody more all in and fully committed to Jesus than John. The man ate bugs, for God’s sake. Literally. But when John actually came face to face with Jesus, when John encountered not an idea about Jesus or a ministry task for Jesus, but Jesus in his flesh–Jesus made him uncomfortable. Jesus challenged John’s expectations and his ministry practice and his faith. The righteousness of Jesus wasn’t what he expected. He couldn’t recognize it as holy.
Every January we spend a season examining and reclaiming our mission as a church, together as a community. I hope you’ll join us as we learn how John’s encounter with the Lord and the higher righteousness displayed in the baptism of Jesus can guide and shape us as we recommit to the first part of our mission, inviting all people to share in the goodness we’ve found in Jesus and one another.
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