Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.
(Matthew 3:13-15 ESV)
What’s great about the Bible is that every word matters. Every sentence, no matter how short, teaches us something. The verse we’ll study today is only three words long but it contains an important lesson.
Yesterday we read about Jesus’ baptism. Initially John the Baptist didn’t want to baptize Jesus because he recognized Jesus for who He was – the sinless Messiah prophesied about in the Old Testament. In the original Greek, John’s words are very emphatic; He was certain he was right. He thought he knew what he was talking about.
But then Jesus corrected him and then he consented. This brief verse struck me so much that I wanted to spend a day discussing it.
How often do those of us who are God’s children think we know what we’re doing or thinking when it comes to God but really we don’t? It happens all the time.
John the Baptist was not an atheist. He was a believer – a very strong believer. He knew the Bible better than the Jewish religious leaders who did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. For three years these men saw Jesus’ miracles and heard Him speak yet they did not believe He was who He said He was. But John knew exactly who Jesus was the moment he laid eyes on Him – before Jesus even started His public ministry.
Yet John got somethings wrong. He understood a lot. But he didn’t understand all.
Notice how Jesus deals with John’s misunderstanding. He does not condemn. He simply points out that it is right for Him (Jesus) to be baptized at the current time, despite John’s seemingly sensible objections.
This is exactly how God deals with His children. He offers us wisdom [James 1:5]. He wants to teach us [Matthew 11:28-29; John 14:26, 16:13-14]. But for that to happen we must be teachable. We must be in communication with God through prayer.
God is very patient with us. If we think or say or do something that is in error He will not whack us over the head. Instead He will gently correct us by providing us the better way of thinking or doing. But that information does not come in the form of a lightning bolt. It comes through prayer.
We must be willing to listen to God when He speaks to us. He will give us the information we need [Proverbs 5:20-22 et. al]. And when He does our response should be like that of John the Baptist who didn’t continue to argue. He recognized Jesus’ as the supreme authority. When Jesus spoke, John listened and acted in accordance with Jesus’ words.
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