Sunday September 3, 2006 | Greg Boyd
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The heart of God's kingdom is revealed in Jesus Christ as being a unique, holy and beautiful kingdom. Jesus did not come as great ruler, who cast judgment upon humanity and used his power over others. Instead, he came as a humble servant who ultimately sacrificed his life for us so that we could be forgiven of our sins and be open to the choice of being in relationship with God. As Christ's followers, we are called to be a participant in this kingdom and to follow His example.
The heart of God’s kingdom is revealed in Jesus Christ as being a unique, holy and beautiful kingdom. Jesus did not come as great ruler, who cast judgment upon humanity and used his power over others. Instead, he came as a humble servant who ultimately sacrificed his life for us so that we could be forgiven of our sins and be open to the choice of being in relationship with God. As Christ’s followers, we are called to be a participant in this kingdom and to follow His example.
Through Jesus’ baptism, we learn how radically different this kingdom is that we are called to follow. In the Old Testament, the Messiah was expected to come as an earthly king who would conquer as a military leader, using power and force to bring justice and redemption for Israel. Instead, in Luke 3:21-22, we see Jesus anointed as the Messiah by being baptized alongside sinners. Although Christ was sinless, He was baptized to enter into our complete human experience because all humans have sinned and are in need of repentance. Jesus came and entered into our sin. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Also, Jesus’ baptism, which declared Him as Messiah, was confirmed by the Holy Spirit ascending upon Him in the form of a dove. Unlike the warlike inauguration of the Old Testament, Christ’s inauguration symbol was one of sacrifice. Just like the dove, which for Jews was associated with sacrificial offerings, Christ came to sacrifice his life for us. Like Christ, our desire becomes to love others. Because we are all sinners, we are called to not look at other people’s sin and cast judgment (see Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7). Instead, we are instructed to first look at our own lives and examine our own sinful life. We are called to follow the example of our Lord Christ and show grace and humility towards one another. Every person has unsurpassable worth, and is considered like a pearl of great price to Jesus. Jesus instructs us not to treat the pearls of people’s souls as though they were pigs’ food. On the cross at Calvary we see the value that each persons soul has to God when He died for us and took upon himself the sins and punishment we deserved.
Jesus’ anointing also gave Him power from God. However, this was not a military conquering power. Rather, this power was the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit that transforms hearts and brings us back to God. As Kingdom of God people, we are also anointed with God’s Spirit. Christians are given the power of the Holy Spirit to wage war against sin and self-serving judgment of others. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We fight by refusing to come under the powers of darkness, instead living in love, as Christ loved us. By doing so, we crucify our flesh and desire to judge our enemies. Through this transforming work others will be healed and attracted to the one that can deliver us all from sin and darkness, Jesus Christ.