The St. John’s Pulpit
St. John’s Baptist Church 300 Hawthorne Lane Charlotte, NC 28204
WILL THE REAL JESUS PLEASE STAND UP?
Epiphany and The Baptism of Our Lord, January 6, 2019
by Senior Minister, Rev. Dennis W. Foust, PhD
We enjoyed beautiful and meaningful Advent and Christmas seasons during December.
Today, we follow-up on celebrating Jesus’ birth by remembering why Jesus was born.
I submit to you that Jesus entered our world to reveal God’s best pathway of living to you.
You are presented with many pathways to explore in your journey of living.
Your presence in this sanctuary today bears witness that you are seeking God’s best path.
In the novel, Dr. Zhivago, the author presents the reality into which Jesus appeared.
First-century Rome is described as a “flea market of borrowed goods and conquered peoples,… And then, into this tasteless heap of gold and marble, He came, light and clothed in an aura, emphatically human, deliberately provincial, Galilean, and at that moment gods and nations ceased to be and humanity came into being” (p. 43).
The beginning of a new calendar year offers you the opportunity for spiritual renewal.
A worthy New Year resolution is to allow God’s desires for you to shape your life.
Consider how Jesus chose to open his life to God during the silent years of his life.
A great deal happened in Jesus’ life between his birth, the family’s immigration to Egypt,
Joseph and Mary presenting their young son in the Temple, Jesus’ teaching in the Temple
at age 12 and his appearance to John the Baptizer at the River Jordan.
Luke offers one sentence about these silent years:
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in divine and human favor.” (2:52)
What was Jesus doing during those decades?
What was going on in his listening to God?
What motivated Jesus during his silent human years?
Did Jesus wrestle with lesser, short-sighted and shallow desires.
Did he have adolescent friends? Did he ever have a girlfriend?
Did he learn the carpentry trade from Joseph?
Did Joseph die when Jesus was young?
Did Jesus work to provide for his mother and his younger siblings?
Why did Jesus approach John at the Jordan at about the age of thirty?
What motivated Jesus to end his silent human years?
Were his brothers now able to provide for the family.
What moved him from listening to God to the point of responding to God through Commitment and Active Faithfulness?
We do not know these answers.
What we know is that on the day of Jesus’ baptism, the real Jesus stood up and all the imposters inside of him sat down.
It was like the TV game show, ‘To Tell the Truth,’ where three contestants try to trick a panel about their identity. After a few minutes of Q&A, the host asks, “Will the real…please stand up?” The imposters remain seated and the real guest stands. A new reality emerges.
I offer to you the water of baptism is like the love of God.
You are surrounded by, engulfed by and immersed in God’s love.
A new reality begins with baptism; you begin to follow the pathway of God’s love.
Consider your baptism, as you witnessed the immersions of Audrey and Katherine Mae today.
I offer to you that baptism is a portal through which we enter a new and shared reality.
In your baptism, the real you stands-up; the you desiring to be all God desires you to become.
In your baptism, your will to will God’s will in your life stands and all imposters sit down.
When Jesus approached John the Baptizer at the River Jordan that day, John tried to stop him.
John’s vision of Jesus’ identity was in contrast with Jesus’ identity as a suffering servant.
John tried to humble himself and allow Jesus to baptize him. Jesus refused.
John’s vision of the messiah was an honest reflection of his tradition.
Even after John was arrested, he sent friends to question Jesus, “Are you the messiah or should we look for another?”
Jesus didn’t enter the world to fit the visions of reality which people created to calm their fears.
Jesus calls people to commit to God’s vision of reality which is spiritually transformational.
The baptism place where Jesus approached John the Immerser served as the Mikveh – the place of gathered waters. In the Jewish tradition of Jesus, immersion into Mikveh symbolized new birth; like passing through the waters of natural birth. This experience points to the death of an old identity – a reality based on living as an imposter – and the beginning of a new life. Jesus was immersed in Mikveh.
As Jesus came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened TO HIM and HE SAW the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting ON HIM. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus was not focused on his public image or on fitting into the expectations of others.
Jesus was not trying to build a reputation; he was being the person God asked him to become.
Jesus allowed all the concepts about him to sit down while his true-identity in God stood up.
Beloved, on this first Sunday of a New Year on the calendar, consider your baptism.
Insert your name into the question: “Will the Real ___(YOU)_____ Please Stand Up?”
You are a child of God to reveal his love to the world.
I pray you can hear God say to you: “You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.”
Please come into the water of baptism today. Don’t stop at the water’s edge; wade on in.
Baptismal waters are waters of God’s love; Let these waters of God’s love wash over you.
Let God’s love be the living water in your life that moves barriers, reshapes channels and gives
life to parched places within you so that fruitfulness returns.
Because Jesus allowed the real Jesus to stand up, you can also allow the real you to stand up.
Amen and AMEN!