Blog
Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15   Entries 1-5 of 74
January 10, 2016, 12:00 AM

Church at Home

Lived Out in Prayer

by Sandy Bach

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:21-22 NRSV)

I've come to the conclusion that Luke's version of Jesus' baptism is the most compelling. John is the reason. In Matthew and Luke John preaches to the crowds, calling them a "brood of vipers" (3:7) Yikes! Modern-day preachers have lost their jobs for far less!

But, it's Luke's version that allows the crowds to ask him, "What then should we do?" (3:10). It's a fair question. Apparently John agrees, for he gives them good answers:
"Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." In other words, love and care your neighbor.

Tax collectors come to him with the same question. These men who lived on the fringes, colluding with the Romans could have been told by John to find other work. Wisely, he doesn't. He says, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." In other words, stay put in your job where you can do your Jewish people some good.

Even the enemy, Roman soldiers, ask him.  He tells them to love your neighbor by stopping the extortion and threats and false accusations. And be satisfied with your wages.

People listened and followed him and wondered, "Could this be the Messiah promised by God?" John, sensing their question, gives them a, yet again, straight-forward answer. John not only isn't the Messiah, his job is to point to him. John baptizes with water, but the one to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Could he be pointing to the Pentecost event?)

The baptism of Jesus isn't described as it is in Matthew and Mark. It's reported in the past tense: "Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized..." (vs 21) That's it.

But, why would the Son of God have to be baptized? Baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace. When we baptize today, our liturgy clearly states that we are to repent of sin and try to live holy and joyful lives in Christ.

Again. Why did God incarnate need to be baptized?

The answer is, he didn't need it. He did it for us.  When Jesus entered those waters, he entered it as a sign that he had come into the world to be with those tax collectors and soldiers and you and me and other sinners and saints. God had penetrated the world and this was his way of telling us that he had come to meet those of us who needed him most.

God's creation is amazing. But, humanity has managed to find ways to distort it. Sometimes tragic things happen. Sometimes kings turn into despots; anger comes in contact with a weapon; greed and jealousy take over good intentions. Sometimes we make choices fully realizing the consequences of those actions. Sometimes, we make choices with no idea of its effect on others.

As Jesus comes out of the water, he begins to pray -- something he did regularly. In prayer, God speaks and he is revealed to the world as the Messiah: the One promised by God.

His ministry is about to begin. Sadly, we read, though, that John's ministry is coming to a close. Herod has arrested him; he'll die by the request of a spoiled step-daughter's request to a drunken, lusty King.

When Jesus stepped into those waters, he understood all of this. That while John languished in jail, his ministry would grow. That while Jesus chose his disciples and grew his ministry, John would pay the price of his own choices.

And it wouldn't be long before Jesus' choices would bring criticism: he would be accused of being a glutton and a drunkard because he ate and drank with undesirables. He was called a friend of tax collectors and sinners. In all too short a time, he would be brought up on trumped up charges and face capital punishment.

So what do we do today? Recognize those who have been torn apart from a world that has an agenda different from God's.

And as children of God, look around for evidence of Jesus' entrance into the life and lives of those around you.

All glory and honor be to God.

Amen.

Post a Comment



Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15   Entries 1-5 of 74
Contents © 2017 The First Presbyterian Church of Cleveland | Church Website Provided by mychurchwebsite.net | Privacy Policy