Going Deeper 1-10-20

The Gospel reading for Epiphany 1... 

Matthew 3:13-17  13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15 But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."  
When Jesus comes to be baptized, it strikes John that this is both awkward and unnecessary.  After all, John’s was a baptism of repentance, and Jesus certainly had nothing for which to repent.  But John was not yet able to see the big picture.  In a few moments, he would see a whole lot more!

 

When Jesus comes up out of the water following being baptized, we are told that “suddenly the heavens were opened.”  Here Matthew once again is tying the event to words of the prophet Isaiah, who wrote “O that you would rend the heavens and come down…” (64:1).   Isaiah was crying on behalf of his exiled people for God to come down from heaven and deliver them.  In Jesus, God was doing just that… only the deliverance was from much more than human enemies and difficult times.  “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19).  Jesus came to save God’s children from sin and death.

 

John’s calling was to prepare for the coming of the Messiah Jesus, and in this baptism the mission was launched.  Jesus simply encouraged John to do his job… God would take care of the rest.

 

We share John’s calling.  We are to prepare the way for Jesus to come… first into our own hearts, and then through our work into the lives of others.  Repentance, in the sense of recognizing and experiencing remorse for our sinful brokenness, prepares the way for Jesus to come into our hearts and lives with His amazing grace.  We believe God cleanses us through the waters of our baptism… not just once, but throughout our earthly journey.

 

And our baptism launches us into our mission.  Our calling in lives is to serve as the means through which God works to come into the hearts and lives of others.  We do not have to do spectacular things for this to happen.  We simply just do our job, and God takes care of the rest.  The “Spirit of God” has descended upon our lives and has gifted us with unique talents and abilities, and our “job” is to discover, develop, and deploy those gifts through our individual and collective mission of strengthening and extending God’s Kingdom.

 

What a calling!  And what an honor!!


With You in His Service,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."
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