So I Have to Apologize…
On Sunday, I made a promise that I simply did not keep!
Towards the beginning of Sunday’s message, I said that, at the end of the message, I’d tell you what “to fulfill all righteousness” meant…
and I totally forgot.
So now I have a chance to tell you. Bear with me…
“Righteousness” is a big word in the New Testament, especially in Paul’s writings. It can get hotly contested exactly what Paul means by it at certain points, but at the core of what it means is, to ‘be in the right’. Biblical scholar N.T. Wright defines “righteousness”, and particularly “God’s righteousness” (a huge theme in Romans), as God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises to make right what has gone wrong, particularly through his people Israel (as first promised to Abraham). That’s the way I see it too, and that’s what I think Jesus has in mind when he says, “to fulfill all righteousness”.
When Jesus tells John the Baptist that it is right for him to baptize Jesus so that “in this way” it will “fulfill all righteousness”, what Jesus means is that THIS is the beginning of how God is revealing and unleashing his righteousness: through Israel’s Messiah – God’s Son – Jesus.
It’s through Jesus that God IS faithful to his covenant promises, by bringing the Kingdom of God to Jews first – and also to Gentiles, giving his life to deal with Sin, revealing God to the world, and conquering Death through new Life.
It his baptism by John that ordains him for this ministry, empowered by the Spirit as God’s Son.
And similarly, it is our baptism that ordains us for our own ‘ministry’ of being God’s son or daughter – for our life of service to God our Father, bearing witness, making disciples, inviting others to ‘come and see’, being salt and light, and so on.
That’s what we’re here for, and that’s the path our baptism places us on – so let’s become like a Philip to someone else’s Nathanael, and invite them to ‘come and see’ Jesus for themselves!