Wednesday, January 03, 2018

"Jesus Needs Your Permission"

Matthew 3.13-15 NAS
“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ 

“Then he permitted Him.

I’m no John the Baptist. Not even close. But I have more in common with him than with Jesus. John and I are human only. Jesus is both human and divine. John the Baptist and the rest of humanity stand on one side of a line drawn in the sand and Jesus stands on the other. We have sinned. Jesus is sinless. We are creatures. Jesus is our Creator. We are not God. Jesus is God. We can save no one, but Jesus is the Messiah. None of us died on a cross for the redemption of humankind. But that is exactly what Jesus did.

John the Baptist was called to baptize Jesus. It did not seem right to him. Nor would it have seemed right to me. Only in this way, explained Jesus, would He and John together “fulfill all righteousness.” It’s odd to me that Christ required human cooperation to “fulfill all righteousness.” It’s almost absurd to think that Jesus would need and seek permission from any human being. 

I wonder what would have happened if John denied Jesus permission? Would some “righteousness” remain unfulfilled? The Amplified Bible says, “John protested strenuously, having in mind to prevent” the baptism of Jesus. But Jesus convinced him to perform the sacred rite and John witnessed “the Spirit of God descending like a dove” (Matthew 3.16).

Peter was similarly reluctant when Jesus offered to wash the disciple’s feet. Peter informed the Lord, “Never shall You wash my feet.” It’s hard to imagine Jesus kneeling before a mere man like me with water and towel in hand. 
Why did Jesus need John’s baptism and John’s permission? Who was John that he would actually have the authority to grant (or presumably withhold) permission? The text perplexes me...

“Then he permitted Him.”
New American Standard Bible

“Then John consented.”
New International Version

“Then he allowed Him to be baptized.”
Holman Christian Standard Bible

“So John agreed to baptize Jesus.”
New Century Version

If I were John, my response might have been: “Jesus, You’re the Son of God. You don’t need my permission (consent, allowance, or agreement) for anything.” But apparently He did.

It boggles my mind how little I know about the nature of Christ. Jesus announces, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him…” (Revelation 3.20). My immediate thought is, “Jesus, the door is open. Please come in anytime. You don’t need my permission.” But my ‘permission’ is apparently exactly what Jesus needs to “fulfill all righteousness” in me.

No comments: