PREPARATION FOR MINISTRY
Jesus drew close to the river were John was baptizing and took His place in line with those who had been convicted in heart and desired to change their lives. He stood there waiting to be baptized. One after another John admonished then immersed the people in the River Jordan, then sent them on their way. He saw the tears of repentance, the joy of reconciliation and rejoiced in God his Savior.
Then Jesus stood in front of John. John knew who He was before He spoke. The Holy Spirit within him reacted just as He had at their first meeting while John was still in his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:41)
John bowed before his Lord, held out his hand as if to prevent the baptism and said; “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
He knew he had spoken the words, he had heard himself speak, but the whole scene was so surreal, unreal, here standing in front of him was the Son of God, his purpose for being, his purpose for life, for preaching; he for whom he had waited and hoped for was standing in front of him and wanted him, John, to baptize Him, God’s Son in the muddy Jordan River like a common sinner! “No it can’t be so, Lord!”
Jesus smiling lifted John’s head looked into his eyes and said: “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
How could one deny a request from God’s own Son?
“I baptize you in the name of the Lord God of Israel!”
As Jesus came up out of the water it seemed to John the world slowed down and he saw each second of time elongated into minutes. Jesus rising, water falling, the sky opening, a dove landing on his shoulder, a voice sweet as honey yet thundering, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Then without a word, Jesus looked toward heaven, spoke words only He and God heard and walked away, never looking back leaving John alone and longing to say or do something. For 6 long months he had been as one crying, shouting in the wilderness of Judea’s geography and the wilderness of the hearts of God’s apostate people, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” And he believed it! Yet when Jesus the Christ arrived John wasn’t prepared for His presence. Then Jesus was gone! John was left with an empty feeling and questions. Was he to continue preaching, to live out his assignment, his destiny? “Will He return to ask me to join His Kingdom administration? Surely the King of Kings will want his prophet in His court. Oh, Holy Spirit, what do I do now?”
“Continue the preparation only now you must decrease, and He must increase.” (John 3:30)
Matthew 4:1,2 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights and afterwards he was hungry.
“Oh Father, I trust you. I care not for food for the body, my meat is to do your will and to finish the work you sent me to do. I will listen to your words and speak them. I will watch what you do and do the same here. Your will be done in my life just as you purposed it in Heaven.”
Jesus knew what would happen next. That old adversary the devil had waited until the body was its weakest and then he tempted God’s Son with food, power, and earthly glory. When it was over, and Jesus victorious, God sent angels to minister to him and to refresh him.
“Thank you for coming.”
“The Father sent us to strengthen you with bread from heaven and the water of life as we did for Elijah. (I Kings 19:58)
Jesus received this gift with thanksgiving and prayer.
“Thank you, Father. I commend to you my spirit to allow you to live through me; my soul and mind to think your thoughts and to purpose to do your will; my body as yours to do with as it pleases you. When you desire I will reject sleep and spend the night in communion with you, I only ask that you strengthen me to minister afterwards. When you show me what to do, I will do it trusting your power to perform each task. When you ask for my life I will give it freely, willingly and lovingly for love of our Man. Amen
Three things encapsulate Jesus’ message.
John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Why did Jesus have to do everything exactly right. He gave us the answer. “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”