Summary: Baptism of Our Lord: Many people missed the Messiah because ’He sure didn’t look like much.’ But veiled in flesh and blood, fulfilling all righteousness, was God Himself.
Just a few weeks ago we celebrated the birth of the Savior. God – the eternal, the almighty Logos – the second Person of the Trinity – became flesh and blood, like we are. There He lay, in a manger in a stable. And He needed tending to. Mother needed to feed Him and change his diapers and comfort Him when He got colicky. And yet the Scriptures say that this little One is the light that was to come to brighten a dark world. He is the promised Messiah. He is the Salvation of God come to humanity. But He sure didn’t look like much.
Can you explain this Jesus? G. Campbell Morgan says about our Lord: “He was the God-man. Not God indwelling a man. Of such there have been many. But not a man deified. Of such there have been none except in the myths of pagan systems of thought; but God and man, combining in one person the two natures – this is a perpetual enigma and mystery, baffling the possibility of explanation.” (Adapted from SermonCentral.com; Contributed by: Matthew Rogers)
Only Jesus meets the criteria of God-Man. We all, through faith experience the blessing of God indwelling us through the forgiveness of sin. But Jesus is the only One who can claim to be God Incarnate. As people were in the company of Jesus, they saw that He experienced many of the same things that we do: eat, sleep, laugh and cry. And because of this, many missed the fact that He was the Messiah. You see, the Lord purposely didn’t come with much flash and dash, and so many thought that Jesus didn’t look like much.
In today’s Gospel Lesson we read Luke’s account of the Baptism of Jesus. It begins by telling us that people approached John the Baptist wondering if he were the Messiah. You see, John had pizzazz. He was eccentric in his manner of dress. People could easily tell that he was cut from a different cloth. He spoke with courage. His message of repentance was proclaimed powerfully. He didn’t even hold back when it came to calling for King Herod to repent of his sins. And people liked that. Even though John was a humble servant, people liked that he spoke with clout. They were drawn to that.
And truth be told, so are we. Things that don’t look like much tend to fall off our radar screens and things that wow us - captivate us. We like people whose star seems to be shining brightly. They are like magnets. All we need to do is watch the fashion trends to see that little girls want to dress like the fashion icons they see on TV or in the magazines. Little boys want to look and act like the tough guys and action heroes of the time. We’re drawn to them because we want some of their luster to rub off on us.
Hey, let me ask you a question: How do you suppose people would behave if somebody famous were to come to our worship service? What if President Bush or the Admiral – David Robinson - came to our church one of these Sundays? How many people would make it a point to go up to them to bid them peace during the greeting? Don’t fame and fortune – glory - attract us?
But, you know, there’s a real danger when glory becomes the reason why we come to church. The gospel of glory when preached tends to draw and attract people like magnets. Many-a-preacher teaches that God will make us rich; will keep us from ever experiencing any trouble; will heal every one of our sicknesses; will heal all the hurts in our relationships; and will give us joy and peace every moment of our lives.
And this attracts people. It draws them - regardless of what the Scriptures really teach. Being attracted to power and glory is not at all unusual, even for believers. The slight, deceptive subtleties that a gospel of glory brings to us are many. It can cause us to focus on our own righteous living rather than Christ’s humble death on the Cross. Our focus can change from the forgiveness that Christ won for us to the sacrifices we make for God. It can cause us to miss the blessing of God because it seems too weak, humble, insignificant – because it just doesn’t seem like much.
When people approached John the Baptist to ask whether he was Messiah, John had to emphatically deny it. You see, John didn’t come to be the light. He came only to bear witness to the light. He came to point to Jesus, because Jesus, the God-Man, chose to come into the world not looking the part. John had to tell his followers that Jesus was the true Messiah. John understood that Jesus may not have looked like much, but through eyes of faith John could see that Jesus was God Incarnate.