Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Bethany Bullet-January 13, 2009

Like many of you, this past week I put “Jesus” in the box. Christmas has come and gone. Epiphany was recognized, the kings had made their pilgrimage to the manger and the nativity went back into its container and “Jesus” was put in a box.

As we celebrate Jesus’ baptism we see John the Baptist put Jesus in a box as well. Not Jesus the figurine nor in a literal box, but John puts Jesus in a box. He says, “I can’t baptize you, you should be baptizing me.” (Kevin Kritzer's paraphrase of Matt. 3:14) John has rightly understood Jesus’ true nature. He is God in the flesh, perfect, holy, pure and not in need of repentance or forgiveness.

The box John puts Jesus in is this one, ‘surely God will work as I think is best.’ In his mind is it possible John thought, ‘Silly God, coming to a baptism of repentance, what is He thinking.’? It wouldn’t be the last time John put Jesus in a box. A short time later, 8 short chapters in Matthew’s Gospel, John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if He really was the Messiah. (Matt. 11:1-3) What had happened that John went from trying to keep Jesus from being baptized to wondering if He was actually the Messiah? It was in fact the same issue, the same box John had put Jesus in; Jesus wasn’t acting like John thought God in flesh should act. What was going on in John’s mind this time, perhaps something like this, ‘Why isn’t He setting up the kingdom, why isn’t He driving out the Romans, why isn’t He correcting the Pharisees, why isn’t He doing what I thought He had come to do?’

Jesus response was gentle and fitting, not only did He praise John but kindly rebuked him as well. I have come to do what I have come to do and I know what I am doing and people are being blessed even as Isaiah promised. (Kevin Kritzer's paraphrase of Matt. 11:4-5)

“Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Matt.11:6) i.e. blessed is the person who doesn’t doubt me because I don’t act nor do what they in their wisdom have assigned me.

It was a box John had put Jesus into, and it is one that we put Him in as well. Oh, that I only put Jesus (the figurine) in a box after each Epiphany! But I’ve had an Epiphany here, a revelation; I seem to put Him in a box after each event that goes contrary to the way I have determined He ought to be working. In good John fashion I too have said, “Allow me to point out that You shouldn’t be doing this Jesus.” Like John, I have sent out feelers as well, “Lord maybe you don’t realize this but I was expecting you to accomplish this and that and here you are doing that and this.” Perhaps I’m not alone.

For all those who have put Jesus in a box, God put Jesus in one as well. Jesus was put in a borrowed tomb, a box, for our forgiveness and to free us from the threat of the ‘box’ forever.

“For don’t you know that all of us who have been baptized in Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Romans 6:3-5)


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