Word for Today Archive

Pastoral Commentary for Matthew 3
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie

Could you imagine Lance Armstrong asking me for some tips on cycling? Even the thought of it is laughable. No more so, however, than Jesus coming to John the Baptist and asking to be baptized. John recognized how ridiculous it was right away. "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" he said. John recognized what was clearly declared a few minutes later when Jesus was baptized. The voice of God spoke from heaven saying: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Of course, it's impossible to please a holy God if you are a sinner yourself. Jesus was not. Then why did Jesus want John to baptize him? Jesus knew that when he was baptized, His anointing with the Holy Spirit would mark the beginning of his public ministry as the chosen Messiah.

There was another significant reason for Jesus' baptism, however. When John objected, Jesus said,"Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." How would Jesus' baptism fulfill all righteousness, when he was perfectly sinless already? Isn't baptism all about the forgiveness of sins? It certainly is, nevertheless, Jesus needed to undergo baptism in order to fulfill all righteousness. Although he was sinless himself, He had to identify himself with sinful human beings, so that He could take our place and be our Savior. In baptism our sins are washed away. But by His baptism, Jesus took our place and took our sins upon Himself. When He went to the cross, He took the punishment that we deserve, in our place. He suffered and died for our sins, so that we can be forgiven. Thus, the great exchange that was completed on the cross began here, at Jesus' baptism.

I would love to trade places with one rider in the Tour de France for just one day (preferably on a flat stage!). It would be incredible to ride in the peloton. I would feel sorry for that rider, however, because if he wasn't completely eliminated based on my time, he would at the very least lose a large number of positions in the overall standings. With his baptism, Jesus began the switch with us that cost Him a whole lot more than a place in the standings of a bike race. His baptism in our place ultimately cost Him His life.

When you take your shower tomorrow morning and the water runs over you, say a prayer of thanks that Jesus' was baptized for you and that you were baptized into Him so that you can have the free gift of eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ.

Pastoral Commentary for Matthew 3
Author: Pastor Josh

Recently, in filling out some paperwork I was reminded of the value of "the carbon copy" (no, the carbon-copy was not for a speeding ticket :)). In the future, if there is any doubt or confusion about what took place at this particular appointment - Jen and I can pull out our carbon copy confirmation that details the truth of what was agreed upon.

Confirmation of what is true... that reminds me of our Scripture reading for today. Matthew records these events from the life of Christ:

"As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'" (vs. 16-17)

Heaven opens... the Spirit of God descends on Jesus... a voice from heaven speaks... "this is my Son". I love this moment in history. This is one of many examples where Jesus is confirmed to be more than a prophet, more than a teacher, more than someone who performs miracles... Jesus is confirmed to be the Christ, the one and only Son of God.

Today, walk with the certainty that the one you have put your faith in has been confirmed by God the Father Himself to be worthy of our trust. While a man who walked the earth, as Jesus walked from the Jordan River we have a confirmation grounded in history that He is so much more. He is God's Son, someone as the Father say, "we can listen to" as a trusted voice in life.

Pastoral Commentary for Matthew 3
Author: Pastor Zach

We have AMB, Equity One, and Public Storage. Europe, on the other hand, has Land Securities. Land Securities is the largest real estate investment trust in Europe, specializing in commercial property holdings. Their annual revenue is nearly incomprehensible: 1,561 million in 2008. And unless you follow the financial markets closely, you've probably never heard of them. Admittedly, I had never heard of them before I decided to write this blog. What moved me to write about a company which was formerly unknown to me?

Land Securities traces its origins to 1944 when Harold Samuel purchased what was then Land Securities Investment Trust Limited, which owned three houses in Kensington as well as some government stock. It was under Samuel's leadership that the group went from a meager real estate company to the powerhouse holdings company that it is today. What was Samuel's secret to such startling success? In Samuel's own words, it was, "Location, location, location!" For it was Harold Samuel who coined this now oft used real estate cliché that is quoted by everyone from multi-national investment trust CEOs to local real estate agents.

In our reading for today from Matthew 3, we meet a prophet named John the Baptist who, as Matthew informs us, is Jesus' foretold predecessor, paving the way for his ministry. Indeed, Matthew even quotes words from the prophet Isaiah to substantiate his claim concerning John's pedigree: "A voice of one calling in the desert: 'Prepare the way for the Lord'" (verse 3). This is a direct quote of Isaiah 40:3: "A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the Lord.'" Wait just a second. There's a shift, albeit a subtle one, between these two quotes. Did you catch it? The colon has shifted places. In Matthew's version of the quote, it's after the word "desert." But in Isaiah's words, it's after the word "calling." And where this little colon goes makes a surprisingly huge difference.

Many ancient Jews believed that the colon belonged after the word "calling." Thus, the following phrase, "in the desert," described the location of where one was to prepare the way for the Lord. Indeed, there was a whole group of first century Jews called the Essenes who lived in the wilderness at Qumran precisely because they thought the only suitable place to "prepare the way for the Lord" was "in the desert." Matthew, however, maintains that the colon doesn't belong after the word "calling," where the Essenes would place it; instead, it belongs after the word "desert." In other words, the phrase "in the desert" doesn't describe the location of where we are to prepare for the Lord, it describes the location of the "voice" who will announce the Lord's coming. And that voice is the voice of John.

Why is this important? Because the placement of this one little colon radically alters how we prepare for the Lord. Matthew's argument is this: "The first rule of real estate does not apply to the coming of the Lord! For the Lord is not just coming to one specific location, location, location! You can prepare for the Lord's coming anywhere: in the country; in the city; at your home; at your workplace." Every place is a place that you can prepare for God. For, as Scripture promises, God "is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27). Or, as John himself says, "The kingdom of heaven is near" (verse 2).

So today, whatever your location, location, location may be, remember that the rules of real estate do not apply to your relationship with God. He is only a prayer, a cry, and a call away.

Read Today's Scripture and Commentary on the Concordia website.

2020-06-05 08:21:57