My kids suddenly stopped wanting to go out to play. It seemed a couple of the rougher kids were intimidating them. One day my sister came to visit with her three, who were a bit older than mine. They came up with a scheme. Ours went out to play and waited for the bullies to arrive, whilst the cousins stayed out of sight. Then they would jump out at the right moment and send them off with a flea in their ear. It worked, and the bullies got chased across the estate. Our kids were never troubled after that, and resumed their outdoor play. The joy of cousins!
John the baptist was doing business as usual, encouraging people to repent of their wrongdoing, and baptising them into a new lifestyle of doing good works, bearing good fruit, when his cousin Jesus came onto the scene, asking to be baptised (Matthew 3:13-15). We must guess as to whether they had played together as children, as John 1:31 suggests he did not know him. But something within John told him this was THE ONE. Maybe it was the same ‘something’ that caused him to recognise the specialness of Jesus even before either of them was born, when their mothers, Mary and Elizabeth, met (Luke 1:41). Or maybe they had played together as kids and John had looked up to his wonderful cousin, who was just not like other kids, not a bit of malice inside him… But John did know this man did not need to repent. Utterly unique. His presence made John feel his own need to repent and be baptised himself. Inadequate. It felt inappropriate to minister to this wonderful sinless one.
Yet Jesus insisted. He felt it necessary to submit himself to John’s baptism. Maybe as an act of humility, certainly as an act of obedience to Father God. So John did what Jesus asked him, and something changed. This baptism was the official start of Jesus’s ministry. Life on earth would never be the same again.
John’s life would never get any easier. But he fulfilled everything he was put on earth to do. It wasn’t comfortable. He didn’t understand it all. But he did it anyway.
We don’t always understand God’s purposes for our lives. We sometimes feel inadequate. And being right in the centre of God’s plans does not necessarily feel great. But as Jesus and John both demonstrated, submission and obedience to God put us on track to be world changers.