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Archive for April, 2018

Words are very crucial.

I am a professor at a Christian university, where words, spoken or written matter- or at least should matter. So, I want to meditate on the idea of Word/s in the Bible.

In the Book of Exodus, Moses took the just released slaves to the place where he had encountered God- Mount Sinai. He knew that a community, whose very warp and woof had been destroyed by the Egyptian lords, had to be rebuilt from the foundation. Moses comes down from Mount Sinai and “set before them these Words that the LORD had instructed him” (Exodus 19:7). So, began the Ten Words, usually called Ten Commandments, “God Worded all these Words” (Exodus 20:1). The Hebrew title of the fifth book, the Book of Deuteronomy is, “These are the Words” (Deuteronomy 1:1).

Many times, the Hebrew and the Greek word for Word is translated as “thing, or matter,” (Deuteronomy 3:26; 4:9; Joshua 23:14; 1 Samuel 3:17, 18; 11:4; and so on). In the Bible words and ideas do not remain as words and ideas. They have real consequences. They are always translated into the structure and makeup of human society.

The Book of Psalms urge human beings to fix their minds on the Word of God. In one Psalm alone, it is constantly repeated: How can a young person keep one’s way pure? By guarding it according to your Word (Psalm 119:9); “I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your Word,” (Psalm 119:16) . . . “Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89). “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105) . . . “The sum of your Word is truth, and every one of your just rules endure forever (Psalm 119:160)

When words and ideas flow from God, through human beings, it has good, constructive, and just consequences.

The prophets constantly judged their ideas based on whether they were the “Word of the LORD,” or their own ideas and words. There is a constant repetition of the words, “The Word of the LORD came to . . . (Hosea 1:1; Micah 1:1; Joel 1:1; Jonah 1:1; Zephaniah 1:1; Isaiah 2:1; Jeremiah 1:2; and so on). The prophets made sure that human actions and thoughts were always measured by the Word of the LORD.

The book of Proverbs is full of teachings regarding words. The goal of a human being should be to “understand Word of wisdom; Words of the wise to bring about rightness, justice, and equity” (Proverbs 3:1-3). The Woman Wisdom constantly says, “My son, be attentive to my Words” (Proverbs 4:4,10, 20; 5:1, and so on). It warns against abuse of words: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 14:35); “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Pro 12:18); and so on. Words have consequences. Human beings are exhorted to always keep this in mind.

With this rich legacy in mind, the Gospel of John introduces us to the person of Jesus the Messiah: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Joh 1:1, 14 ESV).

The rest of the Gospel of John shows how Jesus the Messiah, the Word of God, encounters and transforms humanity, in all its dimensions. He uses words and actions to create, and to bring about justice, and heal- “the Word became flesh.” He begins his ministry by preaching, “these Words” in Matthew chapters 5 to 7, generally called the Sermon on the Mount. This is just like Moses began the reformation of the Exodus community with “these Words, the Ten Commandments” at Mount Sinai. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, “when Jesus finished these Words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, (Matthew 7:28). His Words powerfully transformed society around him.

In keeping with Jesus, the Word of God’s mission, the central mission of the Christian university is the “enfleshment or incarnation” of the Word of God, today, in its various dimensions- the sciences, the arts, and the various professions of humanity. This is called Incarnational education.

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In the Bible-both the Hebrew Bible, and the Greek New Testament, there are two significant directions of motion- “going up,” and “coming down.” Both have complex repercussions.

In the New Testament, Luke the recorder of the Gospel of Jesus, and of the life of the early Church, pays careful attention to these motions. It seems like Jesus and the leaders of the early Church, always “go down” from high points to accomplish a mission. In Luke 4: 31, Jesus the Messiah “goes down” to Capernaum from the heights of Nazareth. This was right after he had declared his mission as the Messiah of Israel and the world, and the religious leaders of Nazareth wanted to throw him down a high cliff to kill him (Luke 4:16-29).

In Luke 9: 37, Jesus “came down” from the Mount of Transfiguration, to do many miracles among the poor people. This is where he was transfigured-his clothing and demeanor became dazzling white, in the presence of Peter, James, and John. He conversed with Moses and Elijah. In response, Peter said, “Lord, let us make three temples, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But, at that moment, a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One, listen only to him.” At that moment, Moses and Elijah, paradigms of the Hebrew Bible-Torah and the Prophets, vanished from sight. Jesus alone was standing before them.

In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Luke underlines the many times, the early disciples of Jesus follow this pattern of “going down” to accomplish the mission of Jesus. In Acts 8:5, “Philip `went down’ to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Messiah.” In Acts 11:27, prophets from Jerusalem “went down” to Antioch to begin the Gospel among Gentiles there. In Acts 13:4 begins Paul’s missionary journeys, with the words, “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they `went down’ to Seleucia, and from there set sail to Cyprus.” (Acts 13:4).  This pattern is repeated throughout the Book of Acts.

However, the Bible makes clear that one must not “go down” unless one has spent significant moments on the mountain top, in the presence of the Lord, and only then “goes down” to accomplish the mission of God.

The Prophet Jonah is a good example of the wrong way of “going down.” The book of Jonah begins with the words, “The Word of the LORD came to Jonah, son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, and then Go.” (Jonah 1:1). Instead, Jonah pretended to “arise,” but soon after, “went down” to Joppa, found a ship, and “went down” into it (Jonah 1:3). There was a great wind, and a huge storm. The ship was “thinking” of breaking up. The sailors, who were priests of other religions, kept calling on the names of their gods to save them from this calamity. This would have been a great time to tell the people about the Creator God. Instead, Jonah “went down” into the inner parts of the ship and fell into deep slumber (Jonah 1:5). He was dead to God, and dead to the world.

In Hebrew, the word translated as “going down” is yarad. From this word derives the name of a river, the River Yardan, Jordan. The river Yardan, starts at the heights of the Golan Heights, and keeps “going down, yardan.” Sadly, it ends up into the Dead Sea. In Arabic, it is called the Al Bachr Al-Mayyt, Sea of Death. This is the lowest point on earth- about 1,410 feet below sea level. It continues to drop about 3 feet every year.

It is called the Sea of Death, because nothing survives in the Sea of Death.

The Jonah narrative makes it clear that purposeless and Godless “going down,” can be counterproductive, and dangerous to society. All one ends up, is being like Jonah- dead to God and dead to the world.

In the light of this, the Prophets constantly exhort us, “Come let us `go up’ to the Mountain of the LORD, to house of the God of Jacob.” (Isaiah 2:3). A whole section of Psalms, 120-134, are called “Songs of Going Up” (Hebrew Shir Ha-ma’alot). They exhort the worshippers to “go up” into the presence of God. Only when one spends quality time in the presence of God, one is ready to “go down” to do God’s mission.

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During the last days of his discipleship of his disciples, Jesus was always urging them to “watch and pray.” It is the only way his followers could have received the strength and ability to be followers of Jesus and his mission.

I was reared in a New Delhi slum. Several of my neighbors were “watchmen.” These people would stay awake all night and watch the neighborhoods of the high caste people. They would blow a whistle, and make constant beats on the road, with their staff. This was a sign that they were awake, and they were watching. Watchmen usually come from very poor, low caste families. Their names were generally “Bahadur,” which means brave ones. It is not a good name. Sadly, it was a derogatory name. It was saying, “Oh low caste man, you are the one who keeps awake, while we sleep.” They did not have very much to eat. But, they kept these neighborhoods, of the rich, high caste people, safe.

In biblical times, it seems like, the watchmen were just these kinds of people. They kept awake, while everyone else slept. Interestingly, the Psalmist portrays the LORD himself to be a watchman. He exclaims, “Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

Staying awake at night and watching, while everyone is asleep, is always as hard thing. While I was working on my PhD, this is one of the jobs I did. I walked the streets and the halls of office complexes, to ensure that everything was safe, and secure, at night. I did all this, just with a flashlight in my hand.

Keeping this in mind, the Psalmist cries out, “my souls waits for the Lord, more than the watchman for the morning” (Psalm 130:6).

Praying in the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament is a sign of the prayerer’s attitude of complete self-ineffectiveness and dependence on God. (Believe me, at about 3 AM, you need that!). The Hebrew Bible attitude of prayer gives a sense of complete dependence on God. Abraham fell on his face (Genesis 17:3); Moses and Aaron fell on their faces (Numbers 20:6); during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, when Ezra read the Bible to the people, “they bowed their heads and worshipped the LORD, with their noses touching the earth.” (Nehemiah 8:6).

In Matthew 26, This is what Jesus did, when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “he fell on his face (Greek. prosopon) and prayed (Greek. proseuchomai), saying Abba, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39)

In both Hebrew and Greek, the physical motion of falling down on the ground, in an attitude of complete self-deprecation, and dependence on God.

This is what Jesus wanted his disciples to do- “watch and pray.” Sadly, three times, when he comes to them, he found them asleep!

Perhaps, they were exhausted? Or they were apathetic? Or, they were self-assured? Or, maybe they were just in comfortable positions, which caused them to fall asleep.? Whatever the reason, they were asleep, at Jesus’ deepest hour of suffering, when he needed them to “watch and pray.”

The question before us is, are we willing today, to “watch and pray” with Jesus?

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The Sea of Galilee is a beautiful place. It is also called Yam Kinneret. It is about 700 feet below sea level, and the Great Jordan Rift Valley, goes through the lake. High winds come from the steep hills, especially the Golan Heights from the east. It can be subject to very sudden and violent storms. The waves can be as high as 10 feet.

This is what probably happened during the time of Jesus. He has just fed, perhaps over ten thousand people, with just five loaves of bread and two fish. He had done much healing on, perhaps the Golan Heights. Towards sun down, he had sent his disciples away on the other side, in a boat. He dismissed the crowds, and spent the night in quite meditation. Towards dawn, he began to walk on the waters of Galilee, to get to his disciples. There was a sudden and violent storm, which probably had raged all night long. But, Jesus calmly walked on the on the stormy waves. His disciples, who were already beside themselves, fighting the storm, saw a person approaching them. They did not know if they were hallucinating, or whether this was the sea god coming to destroy them. They were completely gripped with fear.

Jesus said to them, “Take heart! I AM! Do not be afraid!”

  1. Jesus uses the same words that Moses used in the Greek translation of Exodus 14:13, when Pharaoh, the Egyptian god of the river Nile and the seas, was pursuing the freed slaves, to slaughter them at the sea. “Take heart, stand strong!”
  2. Jesus used for himself the same name of God that was revealed to Moses at the burning bush: Ego Eimi, I AM!
  3. Based on the fact, that he is God, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid!”

Quite a powerful experience!

Peter wanted to test out these claims of Jesus. So, he asked to do the same miracle. To which Jesus said, “Sure, walk on the waves.” Which he did. But, then he saw the fierce wind, and began to drown. He cried out, “Lord (the Hebrew Bible name for God), save me, Yeshua, Jesus!”

Jesus reached out his hand, and saved him. So amazing!

Following this Jesus got into the boat, and the wind ceased- just like during the time of Moses, in Exodus 14!

 

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The angel of the LORD came to a very disturbed and perplexed Joseph, and said to him, “This child is different. This child is of the Holy Spirit. This child is Immanuel- God with us, who the prophets wrote about (Isaiah 7:14). This child is God. You shall call his name Yeshua, because he will save his people from their sins.”

The name Yeshua reminded the people of another time in history, when they desparately needed God’s salvation. It was the name of the person who led the freed slaves into the land, which the LORD had given them. He saved the people from the hands of the Amalekites, and other so called gods. These were human gods, who were worshipped, because they had spiritual powers (Exodus 17).  At this time, Moses, Aaron, and Hur spent much time in prayer on top of the mountain, and God gave Yeshua victory over the evil powers.

Yeshua was there with Moses when he received the tablets of stone, and the Torah, and the commandments (Exod. 24: 12, 13). Yeshua was there with Moses, when the people decided to worship the same gods who did evil to them in Egypt (32:15, 16).

In Numbers 13, 14, while other leaders scared and dissuaded the freed slaves from entering into the Promised Land, Joshua said, “The land which we passed through is an exceedingly good land (just like Genesis 1) . . . do not rebel; do not fear the people of the land. They may seem like people who are endowed with spiritual forces, but, the LORD is with us. Do not fear them” (Number 14:7-9). Yeshua said, “God will save you from all evil.”

After, Moses’ death, he saved the people from all the people who had evil spiritual powers, as is clear throughout the Book of Joshua. God says to him, “This Book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth, you shall meditate on it day and night . . . Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you where ever you go” (Joshua 1:8, 9). It must be noted, that this is what the kings of Israel and Judah, kings of freed slaves, were always supposed to be doing (Deuteronomy 17:18-20), but did not do. At the end of his life, Joshua was able to say, “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Jos 24:14, 15 NIV). “We will serve the LORD, because he alone can save you from all evil.”

Unfortunately, the kings of Israel and Judah did not follow Yeshua’s philosophy of life. They worshipped the same gods that the religions around them served. Endemic to this worship of gods, was evil and injustice against the weak and poor people.  They did “evil” against their own people. They enslaved widows, orphans, and strangers. As a result of this systemic evil, they were driven out of the promised land and were enslaved by the Persian, Babylonian, Greek, and Roman kings. Even when the people had some amount of freedom, under the Romans, kings like Herod the Great, and the Sadducees, continued the same evil practices, against girls, women, orphans, and strangers.

It is in this context that the Angel of the LORD proclaimed the birth of the Messiah Yeshua, “for he will save his people from their sins.” This time he is God himself. Immanuel. This is the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah. Immanuel.

 

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The moments when God breaks through into human history and does something supernatural, are called the visitations of God. In Greek, this term is episkeptomai or episkopeo. In Hebrew, this term is paqad.

God had been promising Abraham and Sarah a son (in Hebrew “seed”) for many years. Sarah was way beyond child bearing years now.  They had probably given up hope a long time ago. “God has not episkopeo for 25 years. He will not episkopeo now,” they said. However, God did break through into history. He “visited” (Heb. paqad; Greek. episkopeo) Sarah.  It was a supernatural break through into history. She conceived and bore a son, Isaac, when she was 90 years young!

At the end of Genesis, God forewarns that the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be enslaved for 400 years, i.e. 10 generations. However, he will “visit” them in history (Genesis 50:24, 25). The children of Abraham were enslaved and suffered much under Egyptian Pharaoh’s for 400 years. But, God did break through into history. He said to Moses at the burning bush, “I have seen the affliction of my people . . . I have heard their cry . . . I know their sufferings . . . I have come down to deliver them . . . Go gather the leaders of Israel and say to them, “The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have visited, surely visited you! (Greek. episcope, episcope)” (Exodus 3:6, 7, 16).

This pattern of God’s visitations happen throughout the Bible. He breaks through to set wrong right; and to bring about justice, and salvation.

Sometimes it is through non-Jewish kings like Cyrus.

The Hebrew Bible has a different ordering of books than the English Bible. (The English Bible follows the Greek translation, called the Septuagint, in its ordering of books). The last book in the Hebrew Bible is 2 Chronicles. In the last verses of this translation, King Cyrus of Persia urges the Jewish people to go back to the promised land, and rebuild the Temple, and the city of Jerusalem. He acknowledges, “All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. He has “visited” me (Hebrew. Paqad; Greek. episcope) to build him a House in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” (2 Chronicles 36:23). It is so profound that the Hebrew Bible should end with the words of a non-Jewish king called Cyrus, who tells the Jewish people, that the same God who broke through into history in the past, to reveal his word to Abraham and to Moses, has now broken through into the history of humanity, indeed to him. Fascinating!

The prophets of the Hebrew Bible, keep telling the people, that God will indeed break through into history- paqad, episcope, in a climactic way, in the future. This climactic visitation is the incarnation of God, in the person of Jesus the Messiah. Therefore, Zechariah, the priest, and father of John the Baptist exclaims, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, for he has “visited” (Greek. episcope) and redeemed his people” Luke 1:68).

God, indeed broke through into the history of humanity in the past.

He broke though into history in a climatic way, in the incarnation of Jesus the Messiah.

The same God will break through into the history of humanity, today, and in the future, to bring about justice and salvation.

When we see so much injustice, and killings, and violence against women and children . . . happen in global human society today, may we remember that that the same God who “visited” in the in the past, will indeed “visit” again.

 

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“The LORD is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my Yesha`, Jesus.” (2 Samuel 22:2-3)

This is a song David sang after God had saved him from all his enemies who were trying to defeat him and kill him-especially Saul. Through it all, David sought to live an honest life. The biblical text makes it clear that David played therapeutic music to help calm Saul during his mental, emotional, and psychological struggles (1 Samuel 16:14-23). David fought for Saul against the archenemies the Philistines, who were better equipped for battle. He killed Goliath the chief god-leader of the Philistines (1 Samuel 17). The poor masses saw hope in the leadership skills of David, and they sang songs in his honor. But, this caused Saul to become very jealous and to go into episodes of rage against David. Saul tries to kill David on several occasions. On occasions, David could well have taken revenge against Saul, because the latter was in vulnerable situations, e.g. when he was relieving himself at a cave in the desert of Ein Gedi (1 Samuel 24:3). But, David did not take advantage of these situations.

During my travels in the Holy Land, I saw several fortresses. The Hebrew word used here, Masada, is also the name of an important fortress, which is in the desert of Ein Gedi, where David spared the life of Saul. It rises to about 1,300 ft.  Josephus, the historian of Roman times, writes about the gallant defense of a group of Jewish men, women, and children- 960 of them, of this fortress, against the onslaught of the Roman Legion X Fretenis in 73 AD.

Why did David not take revenge? The answer is found in this Psalm. He trusted in God’s care and protection. “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer.” (Psalm 18:2; 2 Samuel 22:2). It is a constant theme which is stressed in the liturgy of the ancient Jewish people (Psalms 31:3; 71:3; 91:2; 144:2).

The Psalms of David remind us, that human fortresses may fall, but, the LORD, the strong Fortress always remains standing strong.

 

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Jesus revealed himself as God constantly during his life, through miracles, healings, and the such (John 2:11; 8:3). He constantly revealed himself to his disciples through deep encounter experiences (John 17:6).  Then, in the crescendo of his ministry, Jesus revealed himself, after his resurrection (John 21:1, 14).

In his advanced years, John the Beloved, goes on to reflect on Jesus’ life and resurrection. He says, “This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us (1Jo 1:2 NRSV). Then he goes on to urge followers of the resurrected Jesus to expect a future revelation of the Messiah. Here are a couple of texts: And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming. (1Jo 2:28 NRSV); Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure (1Jo 3:2, 3 NRSV).

This is a very high calling. From it flows a life of honesty, sincerity, love, meekness, justice . . . all that Jesus the Messiah was, is, and will be–revealed.

May we be people of Revelations!

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The creation narrative in Genesis ends with the words, “These are the begettings of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” (Genesis 2:4). It is as if, the heavens and earth are a couple, begetting the rest of the universe.

This word is used repeatedly in the Book of Genesis, the “Book of Begettings.”  It is used of men begetting. It is used of women begetting. It is used of creation begetting. It is as if all of creation is given the responsibility of begetting- God’s mission.

The Book of Matthew, the first Gospel, also begins with “begettings.” Matthew 1:1, “This is the Book of the Begettings of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” It is as if all the begettings of the first Book of the Bible-Genesis, find their culmination in this final set of begettings, in the Gospel of Matthew, and in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah.

Of course, it seems rather odd that creation and men also beget. In global society today, only women beget. In fact, in many parts of the world, that is the only function given to women- to beget, and to feed the babies, and men. This is a very sad injustice against women- globally.

In the Bible, by contrast, men are also given the responsibility of begetting. This is a huge responsibility, and this attitude, I think, would cure much of the injustices done against women in our modern society. Injustices highlighted by the #MeToo movement.

In the Matthew 1, right in middle of a string of begettings- phrases like, “Abraham begat; Isaac begat; Jacob begat; and so on, we find mention of five women.

  1. Matthew 1:3, “Judah begat Perez and Zerah from Tamar
  2. Matthew 1:5, “Salmon begat Boaz from Rahab.”
  3. Matthew 1:5, “Boaz begat Obed from Ruth.”
  4. Matthew 1:6, “David begat Solomon from the wife of Uriah.”
  5. Matthew 1:16, “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.”

(Notice, that in all these mention of five women and the men, Joseph is the only one who does not “beget” Jesus).

Each of the four women mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, are essentially a part of the #MeToo movement of the Bible. They are Gentile-the Other. They are abused by men in power.

I have just written a book manuscript on this topic.

It seems clear to me that quite a crucial answer to the #MeToo crisis lies in a key principle seen in this “begettings genealogy.”

If only men would view sex as not merely an opportunity to experience pleasure at the expense of women, but rather as an opportunity to be a part of God’s mission of “begetting,” there would be no sexual abuse of women.

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“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. (Psalm 69:1-2)

Psalm 69 was long considered to be a Messianic Psalm. Later in the Psalm, it goes on to say, “Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me bitter venom for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour stuff (Heb. Chametz) to drink. (Psalm 69:20-21). These are among the seven last words that Jesus said on the cross- “I thirst.” Instead of water, they gave him exactly the thing that was forbidden during this time of the year- Passover, chametz.

The first verses of the Psalm take one back to the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. The first thing that Jesus did, when he began his public ministry, was to be baptized in the waters. The Gospel according to Matthews says, “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Mat 3:13-17 NIV)

Why did Jesus go through Baptism? It is precisely because of Psalm 69:1, 2.

“Waters and floods” was the picture the beginning of the universe. Genesis 1:2 reads, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2 NIV). At the beginning, before the creation of the universe, it seemed like a hopeless situation. Yet, the “spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” This is like the picture of the mother eagle that always “hovers over” its little ones (Deuteronomy 32:10, 11). It is as if the Spirit of God was birthing the universe, through the birthing “waters.”

This picture is repeated, over and over again, in the Bible. We encounter it at the scariest time for the just freed slaves, in the narrative of Exodus. They were pinned against the waters of the Red Sea. The awful militia of the Pharaoh, the highest god of the Egyptians, was chasing them to massacre the whole crowd- men, women, children, babies, and all. Yet, they went through “the waters, and the floods” on dry land. It was as if God birthed a new creation out of the Exodus community slaves.

With Genesis 1 in mind; with Exodus 14 in mind; and with a whole lot of other biblical scenarios in mind, Jesus got baptized.

“Waters and floods” maybe the scariest time in one’s life. But, let us always remember that out of the “waters and the floods,” God always brings something new and beautiful.

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