Sunday, March 22, 2015

Jesus Baptism

Jesus and John the Baptist were cousins, and closely related by the circumstances of their birth; yet they had no direct acquaintance with each other.  The life of Jesus had been spent at Nazareth in Galilee; that of John, in the wilderness of Judea.  Amid widely different surroundings they had lived in seclusion, an had had no communication with each other  Providence had ordered this.  No occasion was to be given for the charge that they had conspired together to support each other's claims.

John was acquainted with the events that had marked the birth of Jesus.  He had heard of the visit to Jerusalem in His boyhood, and of what had passed in the school of the rabbis.  He knew of His sinless life, and believed Him to be the Messiah; but of this he had no positive assurance.  The fact that Jesus had for so many years remained in obscurity, giving no special evidence of His mission, gave occasion for doubt as to whether he could be the promised One.  The Baptist however, waited in faith, believing that in God's own time all would be made plain.  It had been revealed to him the the Messiah would seek baptism at his hands, and that a sign of His divine character should then be given.  Thus he would be enabled to present Him to the people.

When Jesus came to be baptized, John recognized in Him a purity of character that he had never before perceived in any man. The very atmosphere of His presence was holy and awe-inspiring.  Among the multitudes that had gathered about him at the Jordan, John had heard dark tales of crime, and had met souls bowed down with the burden of myriad sins; but never had he come in contact with a human being from whom there breathed an influence so divine.  All this was in harmony with what had been revealed to John regarding the Messiah.  Yet he shrank from granting the request of Jesus.  How could he, a sinner baptize the Sinless One?  And why should He who needed no repentance submit to a rite that was a confession of guilt to be washed away.

As Jesus asked for baptism, John drew back, exclaiming, "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?'  With firm yet gentle authority, Jesus answered, "Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness."  And John, yielding, led the Savior down into the Jordan, and buried Him beneath the water.  "And straightway coming up out of the water," Jesus "saw the heavens opened and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him."

Jesus did not receive baptism as a confession of guilt on His own account.  He identified Himself with sinners, taking the steps that we are to take, and doing the work that we must do.  His life of suffering and patient endurance after His baptism was also an example for us.

Upon coming up out of the water, Jesus bowed in prayer on the river bank.  A new and important era was opening before Him.  He was now upon a wider stage, entering on the conflict of His life.  Though He was the Prince of Peace, His coming must be as the unsheathing of a sword.  Th kingdom He had come to establish was the opposite of that which the Jews desired.  He who was the foundation of the ritual and economy of Israel would be looked upon as its enemy and destroyer.  He who who had proclaimed the law upon Sinai would be condemned a a transgressor.  He who had come to break the power of Satan would be denounced as Beelzebub.  No one upon earth had understood Him, and during His ministry He must still walk alone. Throughout His life His mother and His brothers did not comprehend His mission.  Even His disciples did not understand Him.  He had dwelt in eternal light, as one with God but His life on earth must be spent in solitude.

As one with us, He must bear the burden of our guilt and woe.  Th Sinless One must feel the shame of sin.  The peace lover must dwell with strife, the truth must abide with falsehood, purity with vileness.  Every sin, every discord, every defiling lust that transgression had brought, was torture to His spirit.

(Can you just picture what Jesus went through?  It's an awful picture isn't it?  I don't like to read about it but I know that if I do I will understand His love better each day.  No one, absolutely, no one could go through all of what He went through for us without an unfathomable love that is beyond description.
I don't want to disappoint Him by spurning that love, do you?  Grandma Joan)  The thoughts each day are coming from the Desire of Ages these thoughts today from chapter 11.  I hope you are enjoying the reading for each day.  It make a wonderful worship time.  Lots to think about and pray about.

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