Summary: Did you ever play "follow the leader" as a kid? Sure. It's a lot of fun until the leader makes you do weird things or some action you're uncomfortable with. How about following a leader you can always trust? This series is on following the only leader you can truly trust.

You can hear the audio of the sermon on my podcast at:

Jesus' Baptism - Follow the Leader


• Young couple goes to visit her family for Christmas in New England.

• Whole family went for a walk in the wintery wonderland. Hoping to connect with his new family, the young husband suggests they play a game. Follow the leader.

• He led off and had them slide on the ice, make snow angels, throw some snowballs.

• Then his young bride’s turn to lead. She skipped, jumped, and then, suddenly, turned and kissed her husband.

• In the spirit of the game, he spun and… was face to face with his mother-in-law. Glasses fogged, scarf up around her face. She lowered the scarf, and the young man took one for his team and kissed his mother-in-law.

• He later reported privately that it wasn’t that he didn’t like his mother-in-law but that he simply preferred kissing his wife.

• The same rules that apply to the kid’s game apply to life. We choose a leader, and we follow. And never doubt that we all follow one kind of leader or another.

o Some follow sports figures, some are more involved in politics, others perhaps a business figure in our career field. Maybe the most revered person in your life is a family figure.

o Where they go, what they think is most likely where we’re headed.

• A moment’s reflection will bring to mind that, at times, even the best of leaders in our lives make mistakes or lead us down the wrong path.

• The results of leadership misdirection or error can derail careers, distort values and morals, damage our relationships

• Who you follow has serious consequences. It matters who you and I put in front of us to lead.

• I do my best to plan out our sermon direction for at least a few months at a time. The beginning of 2021 is no exception. After much thought and prayer over the past few months, I determined that it is vitally important that we dig deeper into what it means for us to be deliberate, dedicated followers of Christ. To have leader, by definition, means that we will be followers. That is the precise definition of discipleship.

• Over the next quarter, we’re going to go to the gospels to closely observe our leader, learn from his words and deeds and, just like the original disciples, begin to figure out what it means to be faithful followers.

• We begin to follow our leader by going with Him to the banks of the Jordan river.


Matthew 3:13 13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.

• [IMAGE] Map of Galilee and Jordan River

• For us, going to be baptized is not a difficult activity. We jump in the car, drive a few miles and typically go inside a climate controlled building and down into (relatively) warm water. Not so for Jesus. Depending on where you think John was baptizing, Jesus could have walked anywhere from 6 to 20+ miles over some difficult terrain to get to John from his home in Nazareth.

• In beginning his ministry with baptism by a recognized prophet like John, Jesus demonstrates that doing the will of God is a higher priority than any discomfort or challenge we may face.

Matthew 3:14 14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”

• John had been given direct insight into Jesus’ true nature by God. He knew that his baptism of repentance was not needed by Jesus.

o Jewish practice of baptizing Gentile converts to signify a break from their old life. John extends this practice to Jews to be a powerful experience to indicate that the penitent Jew was preparing for God’s messiah.

• In essence, John works pretty hard to talk Jesus out of this.

• Here is a recognized Jewish leader, a prophet of God, who has a lot of popularity and pull with the people. Politically, culturally, it could benefit Jesus in opinion polls to go along with what John is saying. If John says he doesn’t need it, then it must be okay.

• Jesus doesn’t bend to the opinions or pressures of anyone.

Matthew 3:15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.

• This is a curious statement given that Jesus has nothing to repent of. The whole purpose of John’s baptism was to prepare people for the Messiah.

• Why, then, does Jesus insist? I believe the answer is to connect. He calls it righteousness.

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