September 27, 2021

Matthew 3:13-15
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

The gospels are full of examples of Jesus doing the unexpected. Dining with prostitutes and tax collectors, running amok through the temple, tipping over tables and scattering people, refusing to defend himself when he’s on trial; all of these are times we might expect Jesus to act one way, and he does the opposite. This week, we are going to look at the story of Jesus’s baptism—specifically three ways in which it marked a radical reinterpretation of our relationship with God.
The first reinterpretation comes in Jesus' very act of being baptized. John’s entire message up to that point was “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). When Jesus arrives, John knows he is the sinless Son of God. Jesus has no need for a baptism of repentance. Compared to Jesus, John has very little spiritual authority. So John says, “Jesus, you have it backwards. You don’t need to be baptized. I do!”
But that’s the twist. It was the first time (but not the last) that Jesus would demonstrate the upside down nature of his Kingdom. The last will be first, and the first will be last. Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. He defends an adulterer. Over three years of ministry, in a hundred different ways, Jesus turned the concept of authority, submission, and even the Mosaic Law, on its head. Here, the teacher and authority is the one getting baptized; leading by example and submission instead of command and control.
On Wednesday, we will look at why Jesus was baptized for the forgiveness of sins if he never committed any (although that’s a pretty big hint, right there). But today, reflect on what it means to follow someone who chose to be last and least when he had every right to claim authority and command. He did things he was not required to do in order to reveal a path we could walk. How should your life reflect that type of leadership?
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