God is Delighted with You!
I think it’s safe to say that John the Baptist was as surprised as we are! Or at least, as surprised 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, winging 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, sharing in the mood of those who are being baptized. 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? Surely, if anything he, John, needs to be baptized by Jesus himself! Jesus’ actions tell us something vital about the whole Gospel Story that is going to unfold before our surprised eyes. Yes, Jesus is coming to fulfill God’s plans, the promises which God made ages ago and has never forgotten.
Yes, these are promises that will blow God’s Spirit through the world, which will bring the fire of God’s just judgment on evil wherever it occurs, and which will rescue us once and for all.
But if Jesus is going to do this… …this is how He must do it…
…by humbling Himself… …identifying Himself with you and with me…
…by taking our place… …by sharing our sorrows…
…by living our lives……and ultimately dying our death!
Part of the challenge of our Scripture Lesson for this morning is to learn anew to be surprised by Jesus!
Jesus comes to fulfill God’s plans, not ours! Jesus will not always play the music we expect. But if we learn to listen carefully to what He says, and watch carefully what He does… …we will find that our real longings, the hunger beneath the surface of excitement—will be richly met! And those of us, who in repentance and faith follow Jesus through baptism and along the road
He will lead us…we will find… …in unimagined glory… …that the same voice that speaks to Jesus from heaven……speaks to us as well!!!
As we learn to put aside our own plans and submit to Christ’s plans……we will be given times of vision, glimpses of God’s greater reality!!! And at the center of all this, we will find our loving Father, affirming us as His children, equipping us, too, with His Spirit so that our lives can be swept clean and made ready for use!!!
Sadly, it happens all the time……in families, businesses… …all over. Too many children grow up in our world who have never had a father say to them (either in words, in looks, or in hugs), “You are my dear child,” let alone, “I’m pleased with you Often it’s the exact opposite… …angry voices, bitter rejection, the slamming of doors.
Perhaps this has been your experience or the experience of someone you know or love.
The whole Christian Gospel could be summed up in this point: When the Living God looks at us……God sees us, not as we are in ourselves, but as we are in Jesus Christ! It sometimes seems nearly impossible to believe, especially to those of us who have never had this kind of support from our earthly fathers, but it’s true!!! God looks at you; God looks at me, and says, “You are my dear, dear child; I’m delighted with you!”
Think about that! God says that, not only at your baptism… …but also, every day since!!! Baptism is something that God does for us—it is not something we can possibly do for ourselves nor earn!
That’s why we only baptize persons once……it’s because God got it right the first time! Can we live into believing that? If so, our lives will be filled with the Holy Spirit and with fire!!!
Without the affirming Words from God, all we often hear, in our mind’s ear, is doors being slammed!!! “You’re not good enough!” “You are stupid!” “You are ugly!” “You are unlovable!” God never sees us this way. And that is the greatest news in the entire universe!!!
Luke tells us that when Jesus was baptized, “And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.” Heaven was opened, the Kingdom of God had come to this earth!!! A different reality had emerged!!! And a good deal of the Christian faith is about learning to live by this different reality even when we can’t see it!
All around us we see desperation and decay. We see men, women and children living separate lives from God and God’s Kingdom. We see war and famine. We see anger and shame. We see persons hurting one another and hurting themselves.
But remember, heaven has been opened. God has blazed the Way! There is a different reality. The Holy Spirit has descended; there is hope, there is a future and grace abounds!!! As Christians, when we look at this life, and learn to see it and hear in it the NEW REALITY, in the Heavenly Voice… …We will hear God’s Word’s addressed to ourselves and to others! “You are my son, my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Now, just imagine how much Your Heavenly Father loves YOU!!! Life isn’t so bad after-all, is it?
God loves you more than you can imagine!
Let’s learn to hear the Words addressed to Jesus—addressed to ourselves as well! Let’s allow those Words to change us, mould us, make us somebody new…the person God wants us to be! When we do this, we will be equipped, as Jesus was, to be sent into the desert of this world. The road Jesus walked is the road that leads through the dry and dusty paths, through temptation and apparent failure. And it will be the same for us as well! If we try and journey the Christian life thinking that our God is a bully, an angry threatening parent ready to yell at us, slam the door on us, of kick us out into the street because we haven’t quite made the grade, we will fail at the first whisper of temptation.
But if we remember THE VOICE that speaks those powerful WORDS of LOVE we will find the way through victoriously!!! Jesus isn’t a rock star Jesus doesn’t come crashing onstage spitting blood and breathing fire! Instead, Jesus walks humbly through our world, seeking the lost, frightened and broken. And this is the Way we are called to go as well.
And we can do it……because……because……God is delighted with us…
…so take God’s Words of love, acceptance and life with you and live to the full!!
This message from Pasto Ken Sauerr is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas. For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected]. A Pass it On Project , You can read more at: Sermon Central