I am one week into my journey with the gospel of Matthew, and today I am finally reading about Jesus! The first two and half chapters had me looking at the genealogy of Christ, Joseph's response to Mary's conception, the wise men, Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt, and John the Baptist. It is interesting to think that the first action of Jesus that Matthew chose to write about was His baptism. Last week, I ended with John the Baptist being a rather eccentric looking man; however, many came to hear his message of repentance and hope and were baptized. Please read what happened when Jesus came to him in Matthew 3:13-17.
John had been baptizing many people and one day Jesus walked onto his shores to be baptized. Can you imagine how John must have been feeling baptizing the One who he knew was the Messiah. Even though no one else knew who Jesus was, John was filled with the Holy Spirit and knew. This understanding also helped him to know that he was not worthy to baptize Christ, rather, Jesus should be baptizing him. But Jesus' answer in verse 15 is interesting. The NLT translates it this way: "But Jesus said, 'It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.'" As I looked at other translations it was worded differently, so I looked it up on BlueLetterBible.com to see how it is worded in the Greek. I have to admit, that I don't feel like I have a complete understanding even after looking at the Greek, but I see that there is definitely more than meets the eye in this verse.
In the Greek, there are a few phrases that seem absolutely powerful to me. Jesus' first words to John (literally translated) are "Permit it at this time..." The phrase, at this time, is what caught my attention. It comes from the Greek word arti which means, just now or at this very time or moment. To me, it was as if Jesus was saying the time is right - the time is now. Also, the NLT translates the next phrase, "for we must carry out..." where BlueLetterBible.com literally translates it as "...for in this way it is fitting..." When I looked up the word, prepō, which is translated as fitting, I found something interesting. It can also mean eminent. That kind of gives us an understanding that it was highly important, not just a good thing. This was something that was very important and had to be done at that moment. Without continuing on with the Greek, Jesus explains that this is necessary to carry out all righteousness. I have to admit, with my limited understanding of the Greek, I cannot fully explain this last statement except to say that I wonder if Jesus meant for Himself or for all people.
This first account of Jesus already shows us that He was on mission and was going to make sure that He was always in line with what God would have Him do. John pointed out that He didn't need to be baptized by an imperfect human, but Jesus pointed out that the timing was now and this was what God required. How powerful is that? I wonder how often we are willing to do something that seems "beneath us" because it is what God requires of us. Jesus lived each and every day of His life here on earth "below Himself" because He should have been sitting on a throne. But that isn't the heart of God, is it? Jesus's mission to save us was far more important at that moment than getting what was due Him. This serves as a fresh reminder to us that no matter what position we find ourselves in life, we are not too important to do the work God wants us to do.
What does God want you to do today?
This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty and Monday Musings.