The Words of Jesus, Part II

As I continue to study the words of Jesus, I continue to grow in my faith. It is my prayer that, if you choose to walk with me on this journey, your faith, too, will increase.

Matthew 3:15 "Let us do so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."

Jesus has grown from boy to man. He is, according to all we have read, about thirty years of age. He has worked as a tekton, a stonemason, a carpenter as had his earthly father, Joseph, before Him. But now it is time to put off earthly things for heavenly causes.

His relative, a man known as John the Baptist, has been preaching along the Jordan River, specifically in modern day Jordan. "Bethany, on the other side of the Jordan," John 1:28 tells us. I have been there and I can tell you how remote--and yet how beautiful--it is. In 2009, just before Israel reopened Qasr el Yahud, the location hailed as being the most accurate of sites for Jesus' baptism, I had the opportunity to go with five other journalists and under the careful eye of Israel's Ministry of Tourism and the protection of IDF (Israel Defense Forces). I can honestly tell you I've not felt too many emotions akin to what I experienced while in this location. The knowing that this was near where Jesus was baptized . . . the modern political issues swirling in my mind with the ancient political issues of Jesus' day . . . the armed guards standing on both sides of the muddy banks of the Jordan . . . and the sweet scent of water and foliage, of repentance and freedom. Remarkable.

I am particularly fond of the account of the baptism from the book of John the apostle, because I am convinced that it was he who was the other disciple who witnessed all that took place there (I'll get back to that in a later blog post).

John, odd character that he was, worked hard to proclaim the coming of the Messiah. Before Jesus could do what He had come to do, John had to fulfil his purpose. Just as, I suppose, before Jesus can come again, we all have a purpose to complete.

He said: “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3: 11-12).

And so when the time was right, Jesus came to the Jordan as had so many others, to be baptized. Understand that John's baptism was something new. This was not the ritualistic cleansing that the Jews understood, but rather an outward symbol of repentance. This simple act of being "dunked" in the water of the Jordan threw tradition in the faces of the "pious" religious men with a declaration that all men could be righteous.

It's one thing, isn't it, to wash your hands after playing in the mud, knowing full well you'll play in the mud again. It's another to wash your hands after playing in the mud with the intent never to play in the mud again. If such washing could now be between God and man, what need was there for those men who claimed to be better than them? Those men who walked and talked scripture all day among the halls of synagogues and the temple?

But Jesus had never "played in the mud." He was sinless. He was and is the Son of God. So, why is He coming to John to perform such an outward display? John wondered the same thing too.

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 (Matthew 3: 13-15).

"to fulfill all righteousness..." What did Jesus mean by this? All righteousness . . .

The Greek word, dikaiosynē, is defined as: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God . . . integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting.

Despite not needing to be baptized, in doing so, Jesus set the example for us all. He didn't declare Himself better than man (and by this, I mean mankind or humans in general), in spite of being God and being perfect. He allowed Himself to be equal to man, His very own creation, so that when He spoke in His ministry (to men, women, and children), He did so as one who understood their plight. Their condition. Their hunger and thirst for righteousness. Unlike, I dare say, the so many of the "religious men" of their day.

I love the knowledge that Jesus didn't consider Himself to be superior because in this He most assuredly did set an example. And I find it imperative that I take this same kind of attitude. I am no better than anyone I meet. We are of equal importance in God's eyes. We are of equal value. In having this attitude, I take on the attitude of the Christ.

Whatever I may have thought was beneath me is not. Whatever He requires, I must do. Wherever He sends, I must go. I am not "all that and a slice of bread." I merely bring the Bread's message.


Jesus with John the Baptist by Greg Olsen:

A map of Israel with the location of Qasr al-Yahud pointed out

A photo I took of the narrowing Jordan River at Qasr al-Yahud just north of the Dead Sea, 2009

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