Matthew 3:13-15 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
Jesus shows up in the unpredictable.
Predictable. We tend to appreciate things that are. As soon as Valentine’s Day nears, I can predict that the aisles of Target and Dollar Tree will be filled with my favorite sources of high fructose corn syrup—the Peeps, the jellybeans, the Cadbury crème eggs. When I grow tired of cold and cloudy weather, I can look at the calendar and predict I’ll be wearing flip-flops and cutting the lawn once again in a matter of weeks (or days, if you live in Virginia). When March Madness nears, I can predict that my Carolina Tarheels will be seeded. Human beings love when things are predictable because it brings comfort and gives the illusion we are in control.
Until the unpredictable happens.
John the Baptist, the miracle-baby of a Temple priest, predicted what the King of the Jews would be like. He knew himself to be the forerunner to the coming Messiah—though he was not quite who you would expect for the job. He dressed in hair garments and ate bugs, held baptism parties at the Jordan River, preached for folks to turn to God and get ready for His Kingdom, and dared to warn super-religious people not to get too puffed up about their perfect synagogue attendance. But when Jesus approached John to ask to baptize him, John’s jaw dropped to the ground. It made no sense. A King? Why? John couldn’t wrap his brain around the idea that the Messiah would want him, a hairy, son-of-a-priest Jesus-fanboy, to perform this. Jesus didn’t need to repent. After all, he was the one everybody was getting ready for!
But Jesus came to do what few predicted. He would bring about the Kingdom of God in unpredictable ways, with unpredictable people. He was baptized to express his solidarity with sinners. He replaced religion with relationship. He initiated a new Kingdom through peace. He turned a cross of shame into a cross of victory. He continued to be present with his followers even after he was physically gone. In his encounter with John, Jesus points us to a God who is more about transformation than comfort, a God who rules not from blue skies but from the gritty earth, a God who shows up in the unpredictable to show us the love and hope he provides is indeed unfathomable.
We often think we can predict how God should work. But it’s often in the unpredictable that God shows us his presence and character in a way we never experienced before.
On Today's Road: What unpredictable road are you facing? What is God showing you in the midst of it?