Posts Tagged ‘life’

Luke 3:21-22 — Why did Jesus allow Himself to be baptized by John The Baptist? He was sinless wasn’t He after all? There are several reasons. First, it is symbolic of Jesus’ earthly life.

First, it was symbolic of Jesus’ earthly life. Jesus lived an earthly life (symbolic of Him prior to immersion in the water). He lived here among us as a human being. He know the life that we live. We have that in common with Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. As we have discussed here before, Jesus understands the human existence. He lived it. The only difference between Him and us was that He was able to go through this life without sinning. We see in Matthew 4:1-11 that Jesus was tempted by Satan Himself during Jesus’ human existence but never failed, never sinned. However, His lack of sin does not mean that He does not understand our existence. He lived among us. The next step in the baptism process is the immersion in water. This is symbolic of Jesus’ death on earth. Being in the water symbolic of the time from Good Friday at sundown to sunrise on Easter Sunday morning when Jesus was in the tomb. Again, it is a reminder that Jesus experienced death just as we do. Jesus’ death was an excruciating ordeal on the cross. Jesus knew that physical pain that sometimes occurs as we die. He knows of slow agonizing death. He knows of welcoming His last breath. He knows that hour when the body gives up and shuts down and stops working. He knows of that moment when the life force stops. But that is not the end of the story with Jesus nor is it the end of story for us as His followers. The next step in the baptism process is the rising out of the water. It is symbolic of Jesus’ resurrection into new life, and a new body. He arose from the dead just as he arose from the death of the water. There is such beauty in this symbolism.

In another gospel, John The Baptist ask this same question. Jesus said that we must carry out what God requires (Matthew 3:15). The baptism thus was not about a symbolic rejection of sin, because there was no sin in Him. It was about carrying out God’s mission. Jesus was baptized because it is symbolic of Him taking on the sins of his nation and of all people. He was following Nehemiah, Ezra, Moses and Daniel. In His baptism, He again identifies with you and me and any who would believe in Him. He who was without sin was baptised. Again, He shows that He is willingly taking our place though He had no personal need to do so. He shouldered the sins of the world on the cross. He is doing it here as well. The sinless substituting Himself for the sinner. He is identifying Himself with those who are repentant. You will notice He is in the water with the penitent ones not up on the shore with the watching Pharisees. There are some today who stand on the shore and believe that they are righteous in their own right. Jesus does not stand with them. He stands in the mess of the murky water with us, the sinners. Jesus, the perfect man, did not need baptism as the symbolic gesture of rejecting our past life of sin, but He accepted baptism because He, as the Son on earth, was being obedient to the Father. His Father in Heaven was well pleased in the obedience of His Son and what it means to us.

The baptism is also an annoucement. It is announcing to the world that Jesus’ ministry has begun. It is public now. All the preparation is over. There is no turning back from the pre-ordained trajectory of Jesus’ life by the Father. Jesus’ baptism is saying to the Father, I am ready. Let’s do this. Prior to arriving at the Jordan, Jesus had been preparing for His ministry for 30 years. He was learning the human experience. He lived it from birth til now. No one could ever say that Jesus could not possibly understand what it’s like to be human. He did it for 30 years! He did not magically appear. People knew him as one of them. He was a tradesman’s son. He lived the life. He experienced joy, laughter, happiness, pain (physical and emotional). He was a child and knew what that experience was like. He was a teenager and knew what that experience was like. He was a young man learning to make a living in the world. He knew what that was like. He was now ready to end that portion of His existence with all that it allowed Him to experience and move on to the specific purpose for which He was sent. As Rafiki says to Simba, “It is time.” It is now time for the stakes to be raised. The game is on. It is also interesting to note that Jesus’ announcement of the beginning of His ministry begins in humility, on the fringes, in the dirty water, not in the main court of the Temple. He went to the river and identified Himself with those who were actually interested in repenting of their sins. This annoucement is humble. He submits Himself to John just as He submitted to the Father in everything He did. Jesus was so humble and obedient to His Father. He was obedient to the point of death on the cross because that was what God required of Him. It all starts right here.

Right here in this moment of baptism, we see our humble Savior saying to us, “I am with you.” I identify with you. I know what is like to be human. I know and understand it from birth to death. He knows how hard it is for us to not sin and how hard our very existence is. In this moment of baptism, He is telling us that He is taking on our sins – a theme that took him through the remaining three years of His life to the cross. The baptism and the cross are book ends to His willingness to take on the sins of His nation and the sins of the world. He loves us that much. His entire earthly existence was preparation. It was understanding of the human experience. It was all pointing toward taking on our sins. He came to give us an out from the condemnation that we deserve. The baptism was the beginning of the ministry. The crucifixion was the literal sacrifice. The baptism the symbolic one. Through His literal sacrifice on the cross, He did what God required to solve man’s sin problem permanently. But like the end sequence of His baptism ritual, that’s not the end of the story. Jesus came out of the water at His baptism. Jesus came out of the grave after his sacrificial death. He demonstrates to us that through Him we have conquered sin and death. We have promise of eternal life with Him through His resurrection. It all starts right here in the Jordan River. The ministry that changed the world begins here in the murky, muddy waters of the Jordan.

Luke 2:25-35 — Simeon’s Song. Are you ready to die in peace? Have you seen what you need to see? Done what you needed to do? For Simeon, everything had been accomplished. He had seen the Messiah and he now knew that the Messiah was the salvation for all people.

According to the opening of this passage, Simeon was a righteous and devout man who eagerly waited the coming of the Messiah to rescue his people, Israel. When the Messiah Child comes into his presence, he says first, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace as you have promised.” Simeon was content. He knew that his life was complete. It got me to thinking about whether my life was complete and whether I am ready for death when it comes. Sure, there are selfish reasons to not want to die just yet. I haven’t accomplished everything I want to accomplish in my life. As well, there are those that I love that would be left without me. My wife would be devastated. My daughters would be lost without their daaaaady. These are reasons to not be ready for death. Many of us, even Christ followers, who don’t even like to think of the prospect of death. However, death comes to us all. It is as inevitable as the tax returns that we have to file each year. Are you ready? Am I ready? As Christ followers, we should be like Simeon here. He is contented. He has seen the Lord. Death is welcomed because he had full confidence that he had done everything and seen everything. He was a righteous man. When a person is mentioned as righteous in the Bible, it means that they pursued God daily and lived their life to please Him. Here, he has seen the Messiah and he immediately knew this child to be his salvation. Nothing else need be accomplished in life. He had done what needed doing in this life.

Are you afraid of death? Do you want it delayed as long as possible, even as a Christ follower? I am not suggesting that we go around wishing for death. Each day that God allows us to remain on earth means, as the old Christian saying goes, “He’s not done with me yet!” Our lives should continue until our appointed time. We should pursue righteousness daily as Simeon. We should follow our calling from the Lord. We should share the gospel with a lost world. We should love our families, and friends. We should love our neighbors. We should live life that is pleasing to the Lord. We should live life as God perfects us daily as we progress in our walk with Christ. However, as Christ followers, one thing we should not do is…fear death. We have seen the Messiah. He is that salvation that Simeon says is the salvation of all people. When we got saved, our eyes were opened to the Messiah. We have seen Him. We continue to see Him as we walk this Christian walk. Therefore, we should be like Simeon. We should not fear death. We should welcome it when it comes. We know where we are going. Death holds no sting for us. We get to live in the presence of God for eternity in a perpetual state of praise and joy. We will be praising our Savior daily. We get to move to the best neighborhood EVER! Life on this earth is nothing compared to what awaits us there in heaven. In the meantime, though, God’s not done with us yet. Let it be said of us like Simeon that we are righteous and devout. I don’t want my life’s byline to be anything other than that — for it to be said of me that I was a righteous and devout man. I have a ways to go on that. God’s not done with me yet. One thing is certain though, I know where I am going at death. Mission accomplished. As I mature in Christ, may I become less and less fearful of the end coming and more and more content that I have seen what I have needed to see in this life. I have seen the Messiah and in that I can die contented.

Father, you are the One who sent Jesus to be my salvation, the salvation of all people. Thank you for the love that You have shown us God in sending your Son. Thank you for the assurance that I can never be snatched from your hand when I accept your Son as my Savior. Help me to seek righteousness daily. Help me to do the work now that you need me and have appointed me to do. Help me to know that when the work is done that I am coming home. Help me to understand that death has no longer any sting for me. I will be coming home. I have seen the Messiah and in that I can die contented. Death should not be wished for but welcomed when it comes. Help me to know and believe that daily so that I am ready when it comes. Amen.