Gleanings – Jesus is God in Your Face

Matthew 3:13-17

“I need to be baptized by you and do you come to me?”

What are the limits of Jesus’ desire to relate to us, to identify with us? Here Jesus submits to the baptism of John. Clearly it is not necessary in any way. He is not part of the unwashed. He is without sin. He is not one in the brood of vipers fleeing the wrath to come. Why then? Why be baptized when he is the only real baptizer. And why does John resist?

Is there a parallel in Peter? Jesus wants to wash his feet. The prophet, priest and king? Really? Why would he want to do that? It is an act so menial and so intimate it still makes people uncomfortable to this day. Like John the Baptist, Peter resists.

What is the common denominator? Jesus moves toward us. Our first inclination is to move away.

We could analyze infinitely why we resist. To what end? I came across a cartoon years ago that captured the sentiment especially for a southerner. A husband is happily driving his pick-up and his wife is at his side on the bench seat. With each frame she moves closer to the passenger door. Finally she exclaims, “We are not a close as we use to be” to which he responded, “Well, I haven’t moved!” We are forever moving away from intimacy. We resist the very wholesome advances of Jesus. How can we tell? We are far apart and he has not moved.

But like most passages, these two are not first saying something about us. Our flight is obvious and predictable anyway. We are meant to see the grace and mercy of God. He is moving towards us, toward our rituals, even our feet, a la Thompson’s “Hound of Heaven.” “God does follow the fleeing soul by His Divine grace.”

This is love unbounded, love unknown. The answer to the question first posed? None! There are no limits. Jesus is God in our space, indeed God in our face.

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