Matthew 3:13-17 Jesus’ Baptism

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And 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. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:13-17

Something happened last week that left me feeling unsettled. It began in our confirmation class on Sunday afternoon. We are in the midst of our “Bible Overview” year and had finally arrived at the New Testament gospels. We were finally going to be looking at the stories of Jesus.

In the midst of our conversation, I realized how seldom we do that.

We had spent weeks walking through the Old Testament. We learned about the four main sections, the crucial history behind the text, some of the great stories, the emergence and the vital importance of the prophets. But still it felt to me like I was just giving a “lick and a promise” to the young people and their parents who faithfully came together to learn something new.

Flying across the United States at 2000 feet might give you a broad sense of the geography but you aren’t going to learn much about what it means to be an American.

We are, after all, Christians! Jesus is God’s revelation at the heart and soul of our faith. Jesus is the cornerstone, the fulcrum of history, our Lord and Savior. But our learning schedule would leave only two weeks to look at the gospels before continuing the journey through the rest of the New Testament and I realized that was not nearly enough.

So when I looked at the assigned readings for the week from Taking Faith Home I realized it was going to be more of the same. More readings from various books of the Bible that only tangentially dealt with the claims and the life of Jesus. And I just didn’t have it in me to do it. All I knew was that something needs to change. And since the reason I get up early in the morning to write devotions is primarily to invite others to join me in engaging the Bible on a daily basis, that change needed to happen with me.

All week long, instead of writing, I walked in the morning. I thought about people and I thought about the life and ministry of our congregation. And I realized that I needed to spend more time directly connected to the radical, challenging, liberating, hopeful stories of Jesus. So that is what I hope to do for awhile here. I want to slowly walk through the gospels and let them teach me anew about Jesus.

So we begin today, appropriately, at the beginning of his public ministry. The Bible tells us what we need to know – not always what we want to know. Infinite is the list of questions we all might have about Jesus the person, Jesus the little boy, Jesus the teenager. But Matthew and the others all start the public story of Jesus at the waters of the Jordan River and the hands of John the Baptizer. Jesus is baptized “to fulfill all righteousness”. It was the right thing to do. It resulted in a voice from heaven proclaiming, over Jesus and over each of us who have also been under those waters, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Regardless of the circumstances of our baptisms – the devotion of our parents, the haranguing of our grandparents, the peer pressure from our fellow students, or that dark crisis moment late at night in a hospital room – baptism marked the beginning of a new relationship with God and the beginning of our own personal ministries. It was the right thing to do. And God was very pleased with us, long before (and, we would come to learn, long after) we had the capacity to be pleasing.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we want to know Jesus even as we trust that we are already known by Jesus. For however long it takes, lead us through the stories of Jesus that have so long shaped our faith and our understanding. Help us listen well, engage deeply, and respond as you direct us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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9 Responses to “Matthew 3:13-17 Jesus’ Baptism”

  1. Paul Graeber Says:

    YES, Huuuuurrrrraaaay! Take as much time as you like we are with you and appreciate your unique insight.

  2. Carolyn Osborne Says:

    Thank you!

  3. briant1114 Says:

    Great idea Pastor Kerry. I think you should take as much time as you have energy for. I’d also hope you feel free to use whatever sources you choose. I also thought the retreat was very good. I hope it went well from your perspective. It was a good sized turnout also.

    Have a good Monday,

    Brian

  4. Julie Crosby Says:

    Thank you for your honesty. Sometimes, we just power forward, but is important to take time to listen to what God has placed in our hearts!

  5. Dave Aemstrong Says:

    Wonderful fresh thoughts! I anxiously await the coming of the promised stories.

  6. Steve McCall Says:

    One of my favorite things in our local congregation’s church sanctuary is a plaque on the back of the wall by the steps leading up to the pulpit that says “Sir we wish to see Jesus.” I believe it was placed there by Pastor John Brokhoff as a personal reminder prior to the opening of the new building in 1960. We all need that reminder. Receiving your devotions is a blessing and I eagerly look forward to your insights on the stories of Jesus.

  7. Carolee Groux Says:

    I look forward to the “journey” with you through the gospels. I am thankful that we will have more time on these stories of Jesus than your Confirmation class will have. (Two weeks is just not enough time to devote to Jesus’ teachings.)
    Both our Baptism and Confirmation are part of a lifelong journey of faith, filled with new questions and answers, new discoveries, new relationships, new responsibilities, and new possibilities. I think we can re-discover the Gospels anew with this study. God will be with us each step of the way. Thank you Pastor Kerry for starting this study of the Gospels.
    Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

  8. Sharon L. Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your insights and the gifts God gives you. I can only echo what the others have said. God continue to inspire and guide you as you share with us.

  9. deblee11 Says:

    Thank you for continuing your Daily Devotions Pastor Kerry! I started my walk with you and Faith Lutheran 5 years ago when my hubby had a Stem Cell Transplant at MDA (now 5 years free of leukemia and doing well). Although our stay in Houston was only 4 months, your postings were (and continue to be) a highlight in our day and our continued lifeline to your ministry. We’re looking forward to joining you on your walk through the Gospels.
    PS to your congregation at Faith–Count your Blessings daily for Pastor Kerry and your church family. Although you likely don’t know me, I need you to know how much you mean to me: your welcoming me into your church family, ministering to my hubby in the hospital with a prayer blanket, and the emotional support I received every Sunday in your midst touched my heart and strengthened my Faith through a very difficult time. I miss my Houston church family and just wanted to say Thanks!

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