All of us like to be told that we are doing a good job. I get discouraged if I feel that my work is going unnoticed or unappreciated, and I would be a better boss if I would remember to tell my employees that they are doing well more often. So why don’t I? Because I am too stingy with my “good jobs.” My standards and expectations are too high. People have to work too hard to impress me. This is my problem, not theirs.
However, that is not the case with my sons. I must admit that I am one of those dads who thinks his sons are the best at everything. I constantly tell them how proud I am of them. Why do I do this? Because my love for them is not dependent on their success. My love for them is unconditional.
Today we are going to look at one of the few stories that appear in all four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In this story, God the Father tells Jesus, His Son, that He is proud of Him. The Holy Spirit makes an appearance in this story too, which is not something that happens often in the Bible.
In Matthew 3:11-14, John the Baptist explains that while he baptizes with water for repentance, someone greater than him is approaching. This exceptional figure, far superior to John, will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. He will have the capacity to separate the righteous from the unrighteous, likened to separating wheat from chaff with a winnowing fork. Jesus then arrives at the Jordan River to be baptized by John, who, recognizing Jesus’ superiority, initially objects, feeling unworthy to baptize the Messiah.
John had just told the people that Jesus was going to be the ultimate baptizer. I imagine John was thinking, “Jesus, you’re embarrassing me! I just told them you’re the Messiah, now you want to be baptized with all of us sinners?”