January 12, 2020: The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Reading: Matthew 2:1. 13-15
(taken from “The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language” by Eugene H. Peterson)
While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills, John called the “Baptizer” was preaching in the desert country of Judea … His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here”… Jesus then appeared, arriving at the Jordan River from Galilee. He wanted John to baptize him. John objected: “I am the one who needs to be baptized, not you!”
But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.” So John did it.
I got stuck on two contrasts in this gospel. I don’t know why. They must have something to teach me.
Two geographic places are presented: the Galilean hills and the desert country of Judea. Out of curiosity, I googled images of both places. The Galilean hills are green and lush. The desert country of Judea is dry and beige and uninviting. Jesus moves from a verdant place to an arid place. Contrast.
During his ministry, John makes it clear again and again that he is not “the One who is to come.” John knows his place in the scheme of things. John sees himself as just the messenger who is not even worthy to loosen Jesus’ sandal strap — much less baptize him. John identifies himself as unworthy. Jesus knows John as a brave, forthright, courageous man. Blam! There goes John’s self-image. Contrast.
Help me out here. If you have any ideas about what the two contrasts may have to teach me or you or us, let me know. Leave your ideas as comments below.