Active Obedience

Read Matthew 3:1-17

Our reading for today is found in Matthew chapter 3, the first 17 verses. This small passage contains one very special Scripture, special in more ways than one. Within today’s reading we find the very first time red ink is used in the text of the Bible. Why red ink? Why the change? Did the printers of the Bible find they were running short of black ink and thought they’d pepper the pages with a little color here and there? (Sorry…I couldn’t resist!) Of course not. We know why certain portions are printed in red. Those are the very words that were spoken by Jesus. I find it interesting that His words were humanly outlined in red ink, and later Divinely underlined in red blood. His blood. The blood of Jesus. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In these first recorded words of Jesus, we find Him speaking to John the Baptist. John had been baptizing in water fellow imperfect-humans, people who acknowledged their need to change and trusted God to start over…people wading from the swamp of life’s garbage into the cleansing, refreshing waters of God’s forgiveness…people who needed a clean start.

And here comes Jesus. John recognizes Him. God wearing sandals. Perfection in a dusty robe. The Creator of man coming to be baptized by one. I guess it’s no surprise, the reaction we see from John the Baptist.

But John didn’t want to baptize Him. I am the one who needs to be baptized by You, he said, so why are You coming to me? (verse 14)

I think that’s probably what I would’ve said – if I could’ve gotten the words out. Lets look at Jesus’ reply…

But Jesus said, It must be done, because we must do everything that is right. So then John baptized him. (verse 15)

It must be done…  I think if I could sum up Jesus’ words to John in just one word it would be this: obedience. Obedience. It’s an action word. And it should come as no surprise to us that Jesus’ first recorded words in the Holy Bible are centered on this particular theme … to actively obey.

It sums up what John was teaching, doesn’t it? John preached, Repent because of our need for redemption, to be made right with God. But to only hear those words and not act, not obey, does me no good. It brings me no closer to God.

I must act on them. I must obey. It must be done…

But Jesus did more than tell us to obey. He showed us how. Jesus became our Divine example of obedience in action, of doing what is right, what must be done. … from a musty, smelly stable with a teenage mother, to a crowded, muddy river with a bewildered baptizer, to a cruel, lonely Cross, with no one else. Obedience was never better. Love was never stronger. God was never closer.

Max Lucado once wrote that many people feel like they are a thousand steps away from God. So God says He’ll take every single step to us to close the gap. Every step, that is, but one. The last one. That one is up to us. It’s up to you.

John preached repentance. Jesus modeled obedience. God spoke love when He said, I’ll do all the work, you just take that last step.

And now He’s waiting…with open Arms.

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