Thursday, February 21, 2002

Jesus, John, Disciples and Baptizing

Afterward Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem, but they
stayed in Judea for a while and baptized there. At this time
John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because
there was plenty of water there and people kept coming to him
for baptism. This was before John was put into prison.

-- John 3:22-24 (NLT)

Jesus, his disciples, and John the Baptist all practiced baptism --
immersion of repentant folks who were preparing themselves for God's
coming Kingdom. Two things about this are particularly interesting.
First, until Jesus and John, most of the washings in Judaism were
self-administered. Second, baptism like John practiced was in use, but
primarily for Gentiles who were becoming Jewish proselytes. Imagine the
attention and furor -- Jews being baptized like Gentiles! Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John all reveal this attention in their stories of
Jesus. Many people realized God was doing something special in his
people. To prepare themselves for this work of God, many were willing
to do whatever God asked of them. So the biggest question for us is:
"Am I willing to do anything God asks of me to follow Jesus?" I hope
our answer is, "Yes." So now let's ask God to show us what that
"anything" truly is!

Almighty God, please remove any stumbling block in my heart that would
keep me from following Jesus and loving you with all my heart, soul,
mind, and strength. I confess, dear Father, this prayer makes me a bit
afraid because I often do not recognize my blind spots, areas of
unresolved sinfulness, or immaturity. So I ask, dear Father, that you
humble me gently and that you fully take control of my heart. I want to
follow your Son wholeheartedly and to do your will without reluctance.
In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

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February 21, 2002

The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do
not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there
may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as
yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is
the fulfillment of the law.
-- Romans 13:9-10

Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to have laws to keep
people in line! That's the point behind Paul's message here.
Treat our neighbors like we would like to be treated. Love them as
we like to be loved. If we do that, then we're not going to do
anything that would hurt them, much less violate a command of law!

God who gave Moses the Law on tablets of stone, please write
your character and will on my heart that I might be a living stone,
testifying to your righteousness and grace. Help me to think more
carefully about how my neighbors feel before I act or react to them
-- not just today, but every day! In the name of your Son, Jesus I
pray. Amen.