Matthew 3:11-17 ESV
11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15 But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
Have you ever been oversold on something? I’m not talking about getting ripped off by buying something that isn’t worth the price you paid. I’m talking about that sense of real disappointment you feel when something doesn’t even come close to meeting your expectations; a movie your friends say is an incredible “must see” and you find it very boring and predictable, a restaurant that has “the best” food but your fare isn’t all that exciting to your taste buds, or music that someone says is “absolutely amazing” only to find it fails to capture your imagination. Your friends have oversold it to you. Your expectations are high and when you finally see and experience it, you feel a great deal of disappointment as if the wind just left your sails.
That’s the image that I get in this passage. John has been building Jesus up, “The Messiah is coming! Get ready! This is going to be incredible! I’m not worthy enough to carry His sandals, He is powerful and mighty! The axe is at the root of the trees to get rid of those unfruitful trees and burn them up! Unlike me, who only baptizes with water, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire! He is going to clean it all up and clear it all out and when He gets here, everything will be absolutely set right!
Are you ready for this?”
Can you picture John at this moment; fired up, excited, ready to give everything, including his life, for the Messiah?
And then Jesus came from Galilee.
That’s a really forgettable entrance; He doesn’t arrive with fireworks, a dazzling light show, with angels blowing trumpets to announce His arrival, or this flood of overwhelming power.
Jesus comes and wants to be baptized. Jesus comes in humility, identifying with God’s people through baptism. He has been born just like everyone else, He has grown up just like everyone else, He is living life just like everyone else (He even comes from Galilee, from Nazareth, can anything good come from Nazareth?—John 1:43-51), and we know He is going to die, just like everyone else.
If we were there at that moment, we may feel that John has oversold us on this one. Even John felt that way in a moment of doubt because John didn’t think Jesus filled his expectations (Matthew 11:1-6).
But that’s just it; Jesus doesn’t fulfill our expectations. He has come to fulfill God’s upper story promises, plans, and purposes. Jesus has come to satisfy the real craving of our souls and meet the deepest need of our lives.
And if we’re willing to humbly come before Jesus, entrust our lives to Him, listen to His voice, and follow where He leads (as Matthew invites us to do at this moment), then we will be caught up in the reality of life that God has purposed and planned for us in relationship with Him, life to it’s fullest in and through a relationship with His beloved Son, with whom the Heavenly Father is well pleased.
This is not what John told us to expect, this is better, much better than we could have hoped for or imagined.
The question that I’m left with at the end of it all this morning is one of choice; do I want the life that I can imagine, or do I want the life beyond what I can imagine, the one offered to me in Christ alone?
Which will you choose?
God bless you, and know that you are constantly in my prayers.