In the second half of the third chapter of Matthew, he recounts the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Of course, for many, rises the question of why Jesus “needed” to be baptized or why did he want to be? The answer to that, I believe, is tied in who Jesus was and what he was about. Obviously Jesus did not need to repent as John had called others to do. Even John knew this when he attempted to dissuade Jesus, still Jesus persisted…but why?
To answer that we have to remember why Jesus came in the first place. This was the word made flesh and the perfect revelation of God to man of himself. This was also going to be the perfect and final sacrifice for man. In order that Jesus could do all those things, he had to be one that experienced all man had and was intimately identified with him so that anyone – absolutely anyone – could approach him. This is the whole reason he was born in a Roman backwater like Bethlehem in a stable rather than a palace in Jerusalem or Rome. This is why shepherds were told before kings. In being baptized, Jesus didn’t hold himself above other people or the righteous elite as he rightfully could have done. Instead, he said, I’m one of you. This is the humility of Jesus on display where as Paul said even though he was God this was not something he strove after or sought to claim essentially. He wasn’t trying to wow people or impress them or show off…he wanted to be someone you would invite over without worrying about cleaning up first and to do that, he had to be relate-able. This is because while he is absolutely the messiah, he also comes as a servant (Isaiah 42) not was a warrior or champion.
The second piece is what happens next. Afterwards, we see the Holy Spirit descend as a dove – either literal or figurative, doesn’t matter- and God the Father speaks, this is MY SON. We must never forget no matter how relate-able Jesus is, he is always God-The SON. He isn’t just another man, a wise teacher, a wise Holy Man, a purveyor of ethical teachings and thoughts. He is no Buddha or Confucius; he is God incarnate, fully human and fully divine. This means he has the ability to do what everyone else only talks about or points at. In no other faith does God himself bring about salvation. It is always left up to us mortals to struggle and strive and hope beyond hope that just maybe if we work hard enough the we might make it into whatever paradise happens to be. Christianity is different. Jesus comes to say, no you can’t do it on your own, no matter how hard you work. Let me do it. Trust in me, believe in me, follow me. Cast your burden down and take up My Yoke.
This is perhaps the more important aspect of what we are to do. Whether the road is easy or rough, the load heavy or light, the stress at stroke level or not…we must always look up the Son. By focusing on him we can achieve what we are meant to…the abundant life in full relationship with God. This isn’t about “letting go and letting God.” We are reminded too often of the struggle, the fight, the race, the spiritual war we are in. This is about being focused on what really matters. Not letting the world pull us down when we have the Son, who has already done all the heavy lifting for us. Now it’s not a maybe or a chance; it is a sure bet. When life gets rough, remember to always look to the Son. He will not fail nor falter…and all he did, he did for you..as you are…because he loves you totally, unconditionally, and absolutely. No one else can ever promise this, but Jesus did and does. If you don’t know him yet, I encourage you to spend less time looking at the world and more time beholding the Son.