Summary: Sometimes we aren’t sure if “now” is the right time for things. At the Jordan River, about 30 years after Jesus was born, now was the time. Time for what? It’s time for Jesus to be baptized.
“Now Is The Time!”
I. For Jesus to step in line with sinners (13-15)
II. For the Father to state a line of acceptance (16-17)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“When it’s the right fit, it’s the right fit. You know it. I just felt it.” That was the quote in the newspapers headlines summarizing what Packer’s ex-coach Mike Holmgren had to say about his new coaching job in Seattle. Many had wondered whether or not he would leave the Packers and move on to a job with more responsibility. But if you would ask him, “Why now? Why not a year from now, or even never?” He would probably say, “Now is the time.”
You have the privilege of being the first worshippers to experience the new Sunday worship time format at Morning Star. Will it stay this way with an 8:00 and 10:30 service? Possibly. We’ll have to wait to hear what people have to say after the experimental period. But with the growth of our congregation to the size it is, and the starting of a brand new year, we realized that now is the time to experiment with two Sunday services.
Sometimes we aren’t sure if “now” is the right time for things. At the Jordan River, about 30 years after Jesus was born, now was the time. Could you go back and stand on the shoreline of that river in the wilderness, you would be nodding your head in agreement, “Yes, now is the time!” Time for what? It’s time for Jesus to be baptized. He hadn’t been baptized as an infant as many times we see in our worship services. His baptism was different. He was baptized for a totally different reason than our reason for baptizing.
This morning we stand on the banks of Jordan River and nod our head in agreement with Jesus. He’s saying, “Now is the time!” It’s time: I. For Jesus to step in line with sinners; and II. For the Father to state a line of acceptance.
I. For Jesus to step in line with sinners
A. John the Baptizer was at the height of his preaching and baptizing ministry. The popularity polls had him ranked extremely high. In Matthew’s gospel account we read right before our lesson that John had lashed out at the Pharisees and Sadducees for being hypocritical. These two groups didn’t really think they needed to be baptized, but were just following the crowd to do the popular thing.
But then along comes Jesus. “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (13,14). Line up with the people along the banks of the Jordan and you can picture what was taking place. You can almost see John putting out his hands to Jesus saying, “Wait, wait! You don’t need me to baptize you. You should baptize me.”
It’s like if the Chicago Symphony Orchestra would say to you, “Would you play us a number so that we might have some soothing music to which we can listen.” You would say, “Wait a minute! You should play for me. You’re the professionals. You don’t want to hear me.” Or Brett Favre saying to you, “Would you throw me some passes so I can catch some footballs from your golden arm.” You would say, “Wait a minute! You’re the two-time M.V.P.. You should throw to me and show me how to throw!” In the same way, John recognized Jesus as one who didn’t need repentance or forgiveness in baptism. John knew that Jesus was much greater than he was, and that he wasn’t even fit to tie Jesus sandals. And now Jesus wants to be baptized by him? John’s thinking, “This is backwards! This shouldn’t be happening this way!”
B. But listen to Jesus’ response, “‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’” Then John consented” (15). Jesus was saying, “At another time, John, you would be right in what you’re thinking. But NOW is the time for this baptism. Let it be so NOW.” The question we come up with is, “Why did Jesus need to be baptized NOW?” It was not that Jesus needed to get his sins washed away. He was sinless. When he says it was to fulfill all righteousness, he doesn’t mean he was following some law. Baptism isn’t a law to be followed. It’s purely good news, gospel, from God.
He did it because it was what his Father in heaven wanted him to do. It was showing that NOW at the age of 30 he was going to carry out his public ministry. It was NOW that he began the course of work that would take him to the cross. It was NOW that he began the public mission of being the sin-bearer of the entire world. The time was now for Jesus to step in line with sinners. Just like we hear in 2 Corinthians 5(:21), “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Now was the time for Jesus to publicly step in line with all sinners and count himself as one of them, though he had done nothing to be in that line.