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Matthew 3: Game on!

What a joy to baptize my own granddaughter.  That was special.  It would be hard to imagine how I would have felt if Jesus came up to me for baptism--probably the same way John did.  Should we do this the other way around?
What a joy to baptize my own granddaughter. That was special. It would be hard to imagine how I would have felt if Jesus came up to me for baptism--probably the same way John did. Should we do this the other way around?
Tom Spence

Read Matthew 3

Son of God—great movie!

God’s not Dead—fantastic! Oh if we only had more like that one.

Heaven is for Real—this is surely the spring for Christian movies.

Noah? I didn’t go see it. From the trailers it just sort of looks like Hollywood is trying to cash in on the Christian market. It is as if you put a biblical title on something, Christians will just flock to it as if it were some irresistible force.

But, I give Christians a little more credit. Take a little license such as the TV series titled The Bible and most Christians will follow along and say, “Yes, that was well done.”

But if a producer is just trying to cash in with a Christian title, he might just be disappointed. We Christians might just pass on the films that patronize those they don’t understand.

But if someone thinks there is money to be made, we will see more movies with Christian titles and a Die Hard 12 plotline.

John was baptizing at the Jordan. Many were coming. He told them to repent of their sins.

He was proclaiming, “Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight the way.”

Two thousand years before Rare Earth would put similar words to music, John was shouting, “Get Ready for here he comes.”

And then some Pharisees and Sadducees showed up to get baptized. You might have thought that this would encourage John.

Not so much.

In fact John refers to these distinguished leaders as a bunch of snakes. He admonishes them that just checking the baptized by John in the Jordan block would not get them off the hook.

They had to truly repent. They had to turn away from their lives of self-righteousness and really seek God. They had better get ready more than most because they had placed their assurance in the fact that Abraham was their father.

This baptism thing was just another patch on their uniform. Surely they could find a baptism patch that went with their phylacteries. They had what they needed. Abraham was their father.

John tells them they value what has no value. Yes, Abraham was crucial to the story of God’s Chosen People, but he is just the beginning of this story.

John confronts these leaders with some rather provoking language. He tells them if God needs sons of Abraham, he can make them out of rocks.

Like all but 8 people and many pairs of animals in the days of Noah, they too were missing the boat. They didn’t get it.

John reminded these self-important people and reminds us to produce good fruit. Just checking the blocks won’t get it.

Then John said that what he was doing was nothing compared to what was about to happen. One was coming who was greater—much greater—and you had better be ready.

People were flocking to John out in the middle of nowhere and John says, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

And then at the end of this third chapter, we see the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Jesus comes to John for baptism.

John thinks that this seems backwards, but it is not about John.

It is about Jesus beginning his ministry.

It is about Jesus beginning a three year race that will end up with his death on a cross.

It is about beginning to do everything required by the law and the prophets to bring salvation to a sinful world.

Jesus knew what he had to do long before this point, but the time to begin this journey was at hand, and it began with a baptism.

Jesus tells John, this is about my journey to save this sinful world and it begins with you baptizing me. Your human understanding tells you it should be the other way around, but this is exactly how it needs to be.

John complies.

Jesus is baptized.

The heavens open, God’s Spirit descends like a dove, and God speaks words that most of us know.

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Game on!

The prophet Isaiah said it would begin this way.

It had begun.

The way it should have.

In a way that was right before God.

In a way that maybe didn’t make the most sense to John, but he knew not to argue.

Game on! The ministry of Jesus was underway.

Amen.