Originally scheduled for January 15
You probably never asked yourself this question, but it puzzled
theologians in the early church for quite some time. Why did Jesus
require his baptism at the hands of John the Baptist? John’s baptism
was a baptism of repentance, something Jesus did not need. So why
did he do it?
John Chrysostom gave us the answer. He imagined an
evangelist traveling through the countryside, baptizing new
converts. A local nobleman refuses to be baptized because it is
beneath him. After all, these peasants don’t ever get a bath, but I
get one once a week! The reply to this is fairly simple: if the King
of Kings and Lord of Lords was baptized, surely you can be too.
This is an example of Christ being an example to us. He is often
referred to as an exemplar for the reason that he set an example for
us so that we might learn by imitating Him.
What kind of
examples does he give us at the Cross?
He gives us the example of innocent suffering on behalf of the
guilty. How often have you seen it; someone with a drunken spouse
suffering because of it. Someone is keeping the family together
despite the problems that this causes — motivated by love.
He gives us the example of faith in God the Father. He calmly
predicted his resurrection, knowing that God had promised it. God
keeps his promises, and we should trust him too.
It is also an example of Christian leadership. A Christian leader is
a servant leader who often has the privilege of suffering for the
cause of Christ.
As you partake in communion today, remember that
you are identifying with your Lord and Master. He gave you an
example; he expects you to follow it. He, the ultimate innocent,
suffered on behalf of you, the sinner. It was his service to you,
freely offered. He asks that you go and do likewise. Therefore,
should you not resolve to share in that innocent suffering?
Jesus, the joy of man’s desiring, the ideal example, has set before
you the symbols of his suffering. You see the cup which represents
his blood. You see the bread which represents his body. These are
also the examples of his love for you. Follow his example and share
that love by bearing one another’s burdens.