Do You Come to Me?

. 5 min read

Jan 2020, Christ Mountain Top, Baptism of the Lord
the Scripture, Psalm 29
Acts 10.34-43 (God does not have favorites, welcomes ALL)
Matthew 3.13-17 (Jesus baptism)
Moment, food pantry
with words in the text:
or “proper”:
·       Clothes
mom bought for me that were too small
·       Not
fitting to ask a woman her age, or her weight
·       No
shirt, no shoes, no service
with the sense of being obstinate
·       Stiff
·       Arm
would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you
come to me?” (3.14, NRSV)
       Scholars suggest that this line is
included because the primitive church was not sure what to make of Jesus being baptized
and baptized by John.
       What to make of Jesus being baptized:
Baptism was only for heathen Gentiles who were in the process of becoming Jews,
not for Jews who were already “clean” – so Jesus identifies with the need for
radical conversion, with the reality that none of us are so well off that we
don’t need grace, AND with the Gentile and the unclean.
       What to make of Jesus being baptized by
In a hierarchical view of the world, the greater person baptizes the
lesser, the holier person baptizes the person who wants to become holy. That’s
quite a burden to put on us pastors, so let’s not go there. But, come on, Jesus!
You really should be the one doing the baptizing! This is “out of order!”
this line in the text does not just reveal the concern of the primitive church
that Jesus is baptized and baptized by John. This reveals God’s passion to
identify fully with us, to be completely with us, to fulfill the righteousness
of Jesus – by being with us.

       He chooses to be with us and
dramatizes it in his own baptism: “Let it be. It is fitting, for us to fulfill
all righteousness.”

tried to prevent him. But Jesus waves off the stiff arm. It is not Jesus who is
“out of order,” but John. We too can be out of order when we focus on what is
proper in the spiritual life to the exclusion of with whom we live this spiritual
       So, Jesus disturbs what we think of as
the “natural order” of things. He provides Cousin John, and us, the opportunity
to perceive a new order, something that we do not normally expect or notice,
something that may all the same be present. And it isn’t the last time Jesus
does something like that. At the end of his life, Jesus gets down on his knees,
strips down to a servant’s garb, and washes the dirty feet of his disciples.
“You shall never wash my feet,” Peter says, attempting like John to prevent
Jesus from this “out of order” behavior. Again Jesus waves off the stiff arm
and goes on to tell the disciples that it is by receiving this gift, in being
served by Jesus, they become “part of him.” And he tells them that they are to
pass the gift on in the same way, serving others so that they too can be part
of Jesus.
       A couple years back, Pope Francis transformed
the papal foot washing tradition, normally done with twelve cardinals, and
instead went “out of order,” washing the feet of women and men, Muslim and
Christian, all of them prisoners. But if that simple gesture of the pope being
with those persons in prison helps each of them be part of Jesus, then … Wow.
you come to me?” Jesus being baptized by John appears to diminish the authority
of Jesus, to reduce the quality of the claim that he is fully God. Apparently,
Jesus is not worried about that question, about our perceptions. On the other
hand, this peculiar story does lift up the church’s historical claim that Jesus
is fully human. And Jesus is not worried about being perceived as such, not
concerned about being numbered with us transgressors. Indeed, this is exactly
what Isaiah the prophet proclaimed about him:
he poured his life out to death
was counted with the transgressors;
he was the one who bore the sin of many
will intercede for the transgressors. [1]
here in his baptism, the first of his public appearances before he was
recognized by anyone but Cousin John, he hears those words of the Father, “This
is my beloved Son.” This is exactly the same expression (in Greek) that God
used when speaking to Abraham about his son Isaac, when God asked Abraham to
offer Isaac to God: “Your beloved son.” So, if Jesus is to be counted with the
transgressors in his death, why not start now, at the beginning, and be counted
among transgressors in his baptism? And, in so doing, to fulfill all
righteousness? What a mystery! Jesus being one with transgressors fulfills all
righteousness, not just for him but for us.
       How does he do this? In the language of
the biblical text, the operational preposition is “with.” Jesus is counted
“with” the transgressors. The mystery of the incarnation, of God becoming
flesh, is that it matters to Jesus to be “with” us. Among the several
objections to Jesus’ life and ministry which led to his death was that Jesus
had the wrong friends. They did not “fit” the profile of friends of a holy man.
They were not “proper” in the way they washed up for a meal. They laughed too
often. And Jesus seemed to truly enjoy their company, never turning down
invitations to party with sinners.
·       “Why
does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”[2]
·       The
Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a man who is a glutton and a drunkard, a
friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”[3]
·       “This
man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” [4]
the words of that great Garth Brooks song, Jesus has “friends in low places,”
and that means you – and me. So, if you ever ask Jesus, like Cousin John, “Do
you come to me?” The answer is “Yes.” No, we don’t deserve it. No, we can’t
earn it. But, YES, Jesus comes to us. Jesus comes to be with us. Jesus comes to
party with us. Like John, we may want to prevent him. But still he comes. He
waves off our objections, tells us that this is really “fitting” and he sits
down to eat and drink with us.
·       Discipleship
– importance of being with Jesus
When Jesus sets apart the twelve as apostles, the first item
in their job description is “to be with him” (Mark 3.13-19).
·       Mission
– importance of being with others
The internship I turned down – doing evangelism for a
Southern Baptist Church with a pastor who did not believe in “friendship
Neighbor’s party and the poker game
·       Common
humanity – if Jesus’ baptism involves him becoming fully human, then the gifts
and signs of Jesus’ baptism – the heavens open, the Spirit descending, and the
voice of God’s love and approval – are God’s for all humanity. We’ve all got
groups we trouble to welcome. Jesus welcomes us. Jesus welcomes them. So yes,
“Do you come to me?” Yes indeed, Jesus does. He comes to you. He comes to be
with you. And he comes to be with those who make you uncomfortable.

Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer,
J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English
(Is 53:12). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer,
J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English
(Mt 9:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer,
J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English
(Mt 11:19). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer,
J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English
(Lk 15:2). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.