Summary: Jesus Is God’s Pick 1) To save us 2) To speak to us
I’m sure the Detroit Lions are looking forward to Draft Day. NFL fans know that the Lions set a record this year. They went 0-16 becoming the first NFL team to lose that many games in a single season. The good news is that, as the worst team in the league, the Lions get the first draft pick. They can choose any draft-eligible college superstar they want to be a part of their team next year. Of course this won’t guarantee a winning record. Heisman-winning quarterbacks or running backs can’t turn a team around single handily. Even if they could, they often fall well short of playing up to their hype.
When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and God the Father said: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Jesus’ baptism was heaven’s Draft Day. On that day God the Father made it known (again) to the world that Jesus was his pick to save us sinners and to speak to us. Did Jesus live up to his Draft Day hype? Let’s find out.
According to one website, the Detroit Lions are unsure who their first round draft pick will be. You’d think that wouldn’t be such a difficult choice: pick the best player! The problem is the best college players don’t always make the best NFL players. God the Father, on the other hand, never hesitated in his choice of Messiah. Speaking prophetically through Isaiah, God’s Son said: “Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name” (Isaiah 49:1b). Can you imagine the General Manager of the Detroit Lions saying: “We will use our first round draft pick to choose Sarah Habben’s (yet unborn) baby. And we’re going to call him…her: ‘Highpower.’” Yeah, I thought a few of you would chuckle at the thought. But doesn’t that put into perspective the ridicule Mary must have gone through when she told others that God had chosen her to give birth to his Son? I don’t think Joseph would have believed her had an angel not appeared to him to verify Mary’s claims and to tell him that he was to name the child “Jesus” (Matthew 1:21). Why “Jesus”? Because that name means “savior” and that’s what Jesus would do: save us from our sins.
But apparently Jesus didn’t look very much like a savior-figure, even after he was all grown up. Do you remember what happened when Jesus announced to the hometown crowd that he was the Messiah? They responded: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Who does he think he is?” In the same way not many thought the diminutive Doug Flutie would make his mark in professional football but he went on to become the fifth most prolific passer of all time. Skeptics who watched Flutie play quickly became convinced that he was all-star material. Not so with Jesus. You would think that after all the miracles he did everyone would put their faith in him but they didn’t. That teaches us two things. First, even if Jesus were to make an appearance at the home of your atheist friend and did anything asked of him, it won’t make a difference. If we don’t believe what the Bible has to say about Jesus, we won’t believe even if Jesus himself appears to do miracles (Luke 16). The second thing we learn is just how stubborn and irrational unbelief is.
This lack of faith disappointed Jesus. He even speaks about in our text. “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God” (Isaiah 49:4b). Perhaps you have experienced that kind of disappointment too. You’ve faithfully witnessed to that co-worker or relative but no matter what you say it doesn’t seem to make any difference. When we become frustrated at other people’s lack of enthusiasm for God’s Word it’s good to remember that Jesus too experienced the same frustration. Even though as the Son of God Jesus could not have spoken any more eloquently, people still rejected his words. Therefore when people reject our faithful witness to them of God’s Word, we should not feel as if we have failed. Take comfort, as Jesus did, in the knowledge that in the end you will be vindicated, or proved right. For Jesus his resurrection was vindication that what he had said about dying and coming back to life wasn’t just a dream. On the last day we will be vindicated when Jesus returns forcing every knee to bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord, just as we have been confessing.