Who is Jesus? It’s a vital question that we don’t ask often enough I think. We’ve put Him in a box, frozen Him in a portrait as a kind-faced Caucasian man with long brown hair and a blue sash across His white robe. And who knows? Maybe He did dress that way, but I can guarantee you He didn’t look Caucasian.
Jesus feels like this distant figure in the past who said a bunch of great and useful things, who loved the unlovable, and started a faith system that has changed the world, but Jesus is more than that. Jesus is the Son of God, and He is God Himself (don’t try to understand or explain that one). He is God who chose to put on skin and walk the dirt of the world He made, alongside the people who wrecked it all. He is God who chose to die for a lost people because He didn’t believe in lost causes.
But even then, He seems unreachable, unknowable, beyond someone I could just run into on the street. But that’s not true. Jesus is as real today as He was in the past, and He’s the same Person now as He was then. And getting to know Him better helps me see myself more clearly.
So how do you get to know someone? You pay attention to what they say, what they do, and how they live.
Today’s verses are Matthew 3:13-17.
Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him. After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
John the Baptist is high up on my list of people I want to meet when I get to heaven. The man was just wild, and I’ll bet he has some crazy stories that would be a hoot to hear from his own lips. God put him in a specific place with a specific purpose–to prepare the way for Jesus’ coming. But John got to baptize Jesus. He didn’t want to, stating that it was Jesus who should be the one baptizing. I love what Jesus says: “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”
Think about that.
Jesus didn’t need to be baptized, though I believe Jesus’ ministry officially began after His baptism. Baptism doesn’t save you. It’s just a picture, a symbol, that you’ve chosen to follow Jesus and He’s washed away your sin.
God wanted Jesus to be baptized so that others would see the importance of this symbol and follow in His footsteps. It’s a strange thing, choosing to be dunked in a pool of water and lifted out again, but I can point to that moment in my life when I made the decision to actively begin following Jesus. I had been saved for years, but my baptism marked the day I truly began to understand what Jesus had done for me.
You realize Jesus didn’t have to go along with this, right? John even gave Him a way out, pointing out that Jesus should have been the one dunking people. But Jesus humbly agreed to do what God has asked Him to do.
I know people like that. Do you? They’re the ones who do what needs to be done humbly and quietly and cheerfully, even if it’s not their responsibility or if they’ve already got too much on their plate. Know what? I like those people. They’re easy to be around. They’re easy to talk to. And generally they bring others a lot of joy.
Jesus cares about what God says is right. That’s who Jesus is. He’s God, but He’s also a man who chooses to obey even though He doesn’t have to. He’s willing to inconvenience Himself to set an example for the people around Him. Sounds like a guy you’d want on your team, right?
I know this: If a guy like Jesus is willing to die for someone like me, I must be worth a whole lot to Him. I don’t understand that, but it’s the truth. Jesus is perfect, and I’m so not, but He still chose to die for me. And that tells me there’s nothing I can do to earn His love because I already have it, and He already thought I was worth it.