Summary: A Sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday.
“Jesus was Baptized Too”
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
John White tells the story of his days as a medical student.
For one of his classes, he missed a practicum about venereal disease and had to make it up at the clinic.
When he arrived at the clinic he ended up in a line with a bunch of patients who had actually contracted a venereal disease.
White barged up to the front and told the head nurse, "I need to see the doctor."
"That's what everybody says," said the nurse, "now get in line."
"But I'm a medical student."
"Big deal," said the nurse, "You got it the same way as everybody else; now you can stand in line like everybody else."
Eventually White was able to explain to the nurse why he was there, but he writes that he can still feel the sense of shame and superiority that made him balk at the idea of standing in line with the people who had venereal disease.
In Luke Chapter 3, we are told that John the Baptist “went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…”
…and “crowds” of people were coming to be baptized by him.
Was John the one whom they had been waiting for?
Was he the Messiah?
Was he God-Made-Flesh?
Would he save them from their sins and bring them new life?
We are told that “the people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.”
But John put a stop to that.
“I’m just a sinner like you.
The Christ you wondering about is so great that I’m not even worthy to untie His sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
And then we are told that “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too.”
Jesus got in line with all the other folks—with all the sinners who were in desperate need of repentance, forgiveness and salvation—even though, He Himself did not need to repent, be forgiven and be saved.
Does this surprise you?
I think it’s safe to say that John the Baptist was surprised!
Or at least, as surprised as we should be if we were to read this passage of Scripture without knowing what is coming.
Imagine you are going to a huge rock concert, packed to the doors with eager and excited fans.
Everyone has their earplugs in; they are waiting for the thunderous music to begin.
This will be music for a battle, for a victory, thunder and lightening and explosions of crazy noise!
The concert promoter comes on stage and declares that the famous musician has arrived…
… “Elvis is in the building,” if you will.
Everyone gets on their feet, to welcome the man who is going to fulfill their expectations.
As you stand there eagerly, a small figure comes on the stage.
He doesn’t look at all like what you expected.
He is carrying, not an electric guitar, but a small flute.
As you watch, shocked into silence, He plays, gently and softly, a tune quite different to what you had imagined.
But as you listen, you start to hear familiar themes played in a new way.
The music is haunting and fragile, winding its way into your imaginations and hopes and transforming them.
And, as the song comes to its close, as though at a signal, the drums, bass and guitars respond with a new version of the music you had been expecting all along.
Now listen to John as the concert promoter, whipping you into excitement about the hero Who is about to appear:
“He’s coming! He’s more powerful than me! He will give you God’s wind and God’s fire, not just water!
He’ll sort you out—He’ll clear out the mess—He’ll clean up God’s farm so that only the good wheat is left!”
We’re on our feet, expecting a great leader, perhaps the Living God Himself, sweeping into the arena with a great explosion, a blaze of light and color, transforming everything in a single blow!
And instead we get Jesus.
The Jesus we have only met so far…as a baby with a price on His head.
A Jesus Who comes and stands humbly before John, asking for baptism, along with everyone else who has been broken by the “wear and tear” of this world.
A Jesus Who is identifying Himself, not with a God Who sweeps everyone before Him in judgment, but Who is with the people who are themselves facing that judgment and need to repent!
John, of course, is horrified!
Why would Jesus be coming to be baptized?
What’s happened to the agenda?
What’s happened to the wind and fire, to the clearing out of God’s barn?