The theology of place is shown in Jesus’ leaving his hometown of Nazareth in Galilee and journeying through Samaria down into the region where John is baptizing followers. Jesus hears a new message that compels him to forsake the familiar for the unfamiliar and security for insecurity. He willfully submits to a novel idea of ceremonial washing, preparing persons to be used by God rather than washing objects to be used for God. Jesus totally gives up his expectations of himself, others, and even God.
Jesus, perceived as a “lowly Galilean” and an outsider, presents himself to be baptized by John—a process and procedure Jesus no doubt neither needed nor was required to achieve. Nevertheless, Jesus consents to being made common and even one with those individuals who “needed” saving in order to be of maximum use to God. In these actions the floor of heaven opens, and God confirms that true power exists in meekness, humility, and vulnerability. God confirms for us all that we must not exercise power as the secular society does, but we must be powerful as Christ was by being visibly vulnerable.
In baptism, sin is removed from us and we are made one with God forever. In every act of baptism, Jesus claims us as his own. It is as if God is saying to us, “You are my child, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
This is indeed good news. Surely the gospel proclaims this message: God empowers us not because we are powerful but because we are not. The weak are made secure. Truly this is a new kingdom into which we are brought through Jesus Christ in baptism.
Eternal God, make us willing to begin again and love and forgive unconditionally ourselves and others. Amen.
In the midst of Lent, when many might be giving up a certain food that they love, we read about feasting. The focus is not on physical feasting, but on feasting as a metaphor for communing with God. Isaiah describes food and drink that one cannot buy with money, for it comes freely from the Lord. The psalmist describes the state of his soul as being hungry and thirsty. Only meditating on God’s faithfulness nourishes his soul at the deepest level. Physical food is momentary, but spiritual nourishment endures. In First Corinthians, Paul appeals to this imagery. Although the ancients experience this spiritual nourishment, some pursue physical pleasure and stray into idolatry and immorality. Partaking in this nourishment should cause us in turn to produce spiritual fruit, as Jesus admonishes his listeners.
Read Isaiah 55:1-9. When has God’s grace inverted your expectations?
Read Psalm 63:1-8. As you mature in faith, what new questions about God do you ask?
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Think of a time you have faced great temptation. How did God help you endure it?
Read Luke 13:1-9. For what do you need to repent?
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