Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Unworthy Honor

He could feel God’s presence down here, by the shore. That was why he liked to teach down here.

Plus the location made it easy for baptisms.

Cool water lapped against his ankles as he and an eager-to-serve young man walked deeper into the Jordan River. Another man stood in the water already in order to help him lower the other man into the water.

“I now baptize you in the name of the Lord God.” He spoke some more, and he saw the man’s eyes tear up. This was a commitment. One he was not making lightly. Slowly, and with the help of another man, he was lowered into the water.

John smiled, his heart bursting with the joy of the Lord as they walked back to shore.

Another man was standing there. His sandals were already cast aside, and he was setting his robe next to it when he looked into John’s eyes.


His cousin was here.

The Savior was here.

His throat closed up, and he started to shake his head vehemently. Jesus smiled and shook his head yes.

 “No. No, no, no. I can not do this.” John pointed at his chest. “I am not worthy. You should be baptizing me.”

Jesus motioned to the water, his eyes indicating that he would not be dissuaded. “It has to be so in order to fulfill all righteousness.”

Based on Matthew 3:13-15

So we were studying this passage in church regarding an entirely different topic. That’s when this other thought popped into my head.

Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be the one to baptize the Savoir? What an honor, right? “Hi, my name’s John. I baptized the Savior.”

Funny...I never saw John do that. Nope. That wasn’t what John was focusing on here. In fact, he tried to tell Jesus the exact opposite.

He knew without a doubt that he was not worthy to do this. He cried out that Jesus should be the one baptizing him! He often told his disciples and those who listened to him preach, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” (Mark 1:7)

The honor had no affect on John. It wasn’t his heart’s focus. He knew that there was nothing he could do to deserve this honor.

But God still gave it to him.

I just find this so incredibly awesome. It’s not about the honor. It’s about the fact that God still counted him worthy, no matter how unworthy he was. John had a humbleness that I envy. He knew who he was in God. He knew his mission.

You know that phrase, “There is no honor among thieves.”? We are thieves, liars, adulterers, murderers, and a whole bunch of other unpleasant things. If you want to be technical, we have no honor. So let's not focus on that so much in our lives. It’s not about "the honor," because without Jesus, we are unworthy.

Without Jesus.

With Jesus, God counts us worthy.

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with tone mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:21

This is our mission. Living a life worthy of the gospel. A life that shows Jesus.

V. Joy Palmer

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