First Sunday after Epiphany
Responding to God’s Call
When Jesus approaches John at the Jordan, John is doing that to which he has been divinely called. We should not be surprised that Jesus shows up where kingdom work is being undertaken. Jesus makes a request (issues a directive?) to which John is resistant. John, in his resisting, is in good company; recall Moses, Jonah, and biblical others who similarly resisted God’s calling.
Many followers of Jesus in our time are also sometimes resistant. I know I am. I suspect you may be too. Our resistance to God has a variety of roots. I believe that objections to responding affirmatively to God’s callings are often based on an individual’s sense of worthiness (or unworthiness). On one level, I think most of us can confidently state that God knows what God is doing and therefore calls only those who can be brought into service of God’s will successfully. The Scriptures certainly give witness to this. On another level, we have our doubts, perhaps less doubting God and more doubting our understanding of what God is calling us to.
How wonderfully this encounter between John the Baptizer and Jesus of Nazareth turns out! The heavens are opened, the Spirit of God is seen descending, and the voice of God Almighty issues forth, proclaiming the full and true identity of Jesus and indicating God’s pleasure.
How wonderfully it turns out when any person or group of persons hears God’s calling and answers affirmatively with holy action! Put aside your doubt. The outcome of your submission to God’s callings can be quite astonishing and well beyond your expectations. In one way or another, you are called. As did John, give to God your “Yes.” Jesus is present with you and for you. Your faithful action is much-needed kingdom-building activity.
Walter Bishop, pastor
Winston-Salem, North Carolina