Note: I apologize
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River to John to get baptized by him. 14But John stopped him, and said, â€œI need to be baptized by you, yet you’re coming to me?â€ 15But Jesus answered, â€œLeave it for now, but this is appropriate to do the right thing completely. Then he let him. 16And when Jesus was baptized, as soon as he came up out of the water, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And there was a voice from heaven that said, â€œThis is my much loved Son. I’m pleased with him.â€ — Matthew 3:13-17
All leaders are tempted from time to time by the â€œtoo importantâ€ syndrome. It might be the pastor who is too important to do some cleaning, or the teacher who is too important to take a beginning class. It may be the expert who is too important to read the latest safety warning. It might be the church member who is too important to go forward to the altar, lest he look like one of those sinners who need to repent.
Most of the time being â€œtoo importantâ€ only has minor effects. Somebody else will clean the church or teach the basic class. At other times things get more dangerous. The person who feels so righteous that he’s afraid to be seen praying in the front of a church may need to watch out for spiritual pride. A pilot who feels too important to follow a checklist would be a dangerous person indeed! Fortunately, every pilot I’ve ever encountered knows from experience that the checklist is critical.
So here’s Jesus, sinless, and a very important person if ever there was one, and he comes to John to be baptized. Now John has been preaching repentance, and then people get baptized. Their baptism symbolizes the change, the repentance, the new life on which they have embarked. So what’s Jesus doing getting baptized? John wanted to know. He held Jesus back. â€œNo need for you to get wet, Jesus! You don’t need baptism. You don’t need to repent.â€
But Jesus isn’t too important to get wet. He’s not too important to be dipped under the water by a rough, unsophisticated man named John.
Why did he do it?
Well, first, he did it because he is our example. We need to repent and be baptized, and so Jesus showed us the way. But there’s another point here. We also need to be examples to others. Some people may be just waiting for someone to lead the way. If you’re too important to go do something just so you can provide an example, is it possible you’ll hold someone else back?
Second, however, Jesus was and is our brother, and baptism isn’t just an individual thing in which I get forgiven. It’s about the church community, into which I’m born again as a new family member. Jesus wasn’t going to leave any chance that we would not recognize that he had lived as we are.
Let’s consider how we can be examples to others, and forget our own importanceâ€”such as it is!