January 8, 2017
Introduction: As Episcopalians we are used to hierarchies. We certainly understand that there is a vertical structure to our leadership. So too, one might expect within the context of the Gospel we would find this present as well. God is in charge and we are his servants. This would make sense and yet it is not Biblical. God does not use His position to laud it over us his creation. Instead we are constantly being given the opportunity to seemingly do our own thing. The story goes that man became angry with God and argued that he could do a better job and asked God that if he could take his place for only an instant he would show him just how to run things. So God after hearing this argument for an instant, and since that time man has never given God back his throne!
I) After Jesus and the holy family go home to Nazareth we are told of John the Baptist’s preaching and then we hear of Jesus coming from Galilee to be baptized by John. We really know very little of what drew Jesus to this defining moment, nor do we know what made John say to Jesus that he of everyone he had been baptizing, John should not baptize because after all, it was Jesus who should be baptizing John.
II) We do not know how long it took for Jesus to convince John to baptize him, we are only told that Jesus’ argument that for this moment John must baptize Jesus and not the other way around and so it happens. What John identified in Jesus as something unique and special we will never know. We do know that both acted in obedience to God’s will as Jesus points out that there is a greater ‘righteousness’ than John understands. As God identifies Jesus as his beloved son, this maybe pointing all the way back to Genesis 22: 2 where Abraham decides he will be willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac to God.
III) As we listen to this story once more it is important to see within it echoes of not only Genesis but Psalm 2:1 and Isiah 42: 1. The combination of God’s beloved Son and the suffering servant are all present in this passage as we now come to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. What do you think Jesus dreamed he would be doing as he felt called to fulfill all righteousness at this point in his life? What did John the Baptist find welling up inside himself as he confronted the person whom he had been called to prepare the way for, and now found himself baptizing instead of being baptized by this great man? What have you been called to do by God in your life? Are you in the process of discerning this call, answering it, or living it out to its conclusion? No matter where we are in this process it is important to realize we too are God’s beloved.