Summary: First sermon in series "Living Life on Purpose - Christ’s Answers to Man’s Questions". This is a question from John the Baptist.
Christ’s purpose-driven life was constantly arousing the curiosity of onlookers. Whether His followers or His enemies, people were so impressed with Him, or, in some cases, intimidated by Him, that they wanted to know how and why He had it all together - so they asked Him questions.
Jesus used these questions as great teaching platforms from which we all benefit. From His answers we not only learn how to live our lives on purpose as He did, but we also realize how a purpose driven life brings harmony and satisfaction to our human existence.
We investigate a question today that was asked by one of the most pivotal people in the Bible.
John the Baptist was the key figure connecting the dots between the Old and New Testaments. His message and His mission were clear and definite - to prepare the way for Jesus.
The setting for John’s question is notable in its importance. Christ’s baptism marked the beginning of His public ministry. The acknowledgement of Jesus by a respected prophet such as John provided an excellent launching pad for Christ’s introduction as the Son of God.
What happens when Jesus comes to be baptized by John is good for us all to witness.
John posed a question to Jesus: "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you, so why are you coming to me?" (Matthew 3:14)
Let’s put ourselves in John’s sandals. How would we have felt? The same way - only perhaps our hesitancy would have been even greater - after all, John was one of the greatest men who ever lived - even Jesus said so.
"I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist." (Matthew 11:11)
If John hesitated to baptize Jesus because he felt unworthy, how much more should we sense our unworthiness to serve God?
Yet Christ’s answer to John’s question gives us peace and hope.
Can God use us, imperfect humans, with all our warts and blemishes, with all our past sins and scars, with all our misteps and frailties? How can the imperfect be of service to the Perfect One?
Are we good enough? Can we measure up?
Let Christ answer that question. Consider the dialogue closely.
John: "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you, so why are you coming to me?"
Jesus: "It must be done, because we must do everything that is right."
So then John baptized him. (Matthew 3:14-15 NLT)
John’s baptism was one of repentance, but Jesus had no sins from which to repent. He was sinless yet willing to identify with the sinner.
Therein lies our answer of hope.
Without Him we are not good enough, with Him we are!
Steve Brown, Key Life Radio host and Bible teacher makes some excellent points to ponder on this subject.
"Jesus reached out to some very surprising people. He showed up in some very surprising places and He said some very surprising things. Unlike Him, we generally do what is expected of ’religious’ people. Being a ’good citizen’ is not the same thing as being a Christian, but in our society, goodness and Christian are used interchangeably.
"So church becomes the place where a nice, pleasant, bland person stands in front of other nice, pleasant, bland people urging them to be nicer, more pleasant and more bland. Jesus didn’t die to create nice, pleasant, bland people. He died so that sinners would find grace and forgiveness, and, in the joy and exuberance of their discovery, would find it impossible to keep quiet about it.
"It’s worth noting that Jesus didn’t condemn bad people. He condemned stiff people. We condemn the bad ones and affirm the stiff ones. Whether it was a prostitute or a tax collector or an outcast, Jesus reached out to them. It was a motley crew of riffraff that followed Him around, and it never embarassed Him or made Him feel uncomfortable. It still doesn’t. But He’s still angry at the stiff ones.
"One of the most radical statements Jesus ever made is found in Matthew 9...verses 12 and 13 - ’It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice." For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’
"The difference between Jesus and us is that He didn’t condemn the bad people - He loved them and understood them even though He would have been perfectly justified in condemning them. We, on the other hand, can’t condemn the bad people because we are them. Therefore, our only alternative is to tell them, as fellow beggars, where we found bread.
"I believe that one of the reasons the world isn’t attracted to our religion and to our churches is because they think what we have is only for good people.