Undercover Jesus

Then Jesus came down from Galilee to the Jordan River  to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and 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.

Mathew 3:13 – 15

Dear readers,

Do you know the TV documentary Soap Undercover Boss?  In this play company leaders do work in their own company, disguised as unskilled workers, so to speak as ordinary employees. They felt this as the best way to really get to know your company. They leave the boss floor and work with them at the ground level, where the boss usually never shows up. So he or she experiences the work of the individual employees very close indeed. The daily routine with all its issues. (Makes me quite uncomfortable to visualize that my boss would have looked at my fingers!)

What Jesus does at the Jordan River however, is not a heavenly documentary soap. The Messiah descends down into the Jordan in order to get baptized there like all other people. He is baptized like a sinner. He gets into the same water as everyone else who was baptized before him. He becomes one of them. The Son of God leaves the boss floor and goes to the sinner level.

The Apostle Paul describes this in his letter to the church in Philippi (Chapter 2, 6 – 8): The One who was in the form of God, did not hold onto being equal with God:  Instead he declined all of his privilege and took upon him the form of a servant.  He became a man in this world and shared life with all others. He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death at the cross.

No, the Lord Jesus is not an undercover boss who just wants to see for a few days what his people are doing "down there" at the floor level. Jesus shares his life with other people, while remaining holy. Jesus visually puts on our shoes and still remains the Holy One of God, the Christ.

I read this prayer the other day of a Sioux Indian: "Oh great Spirit, never let me judge or criticize anybody until I've wandered around in his moccasins for two weeks." - Respect for this attitude! To see life from the perspective of my fellow human being.  Or from the point of view of my competitor. Or even my enemy.

Jesus changes sides. He is not only touched by the Jordan water. He is touched by the life of the people around him. He is affected by my life. He is also touched by your life! He goes with us and - visually - puts on our shoes.

His feet direct him to a woman, for example, who constantly has problems with the right relationship. A woman who became an outsider. She was not liked by anyone anymore. He does not condemn her, but opens a new perspective in life for her (John 4).

Or He goes and meets a city-known tax collector, a totally corrupt guy. Jesus even wants to eat with this cheater. He does not condemn this man, but wants to help him to live with God. The encounter with the Messiah radically changes this man´s life forever (Luke Gospel 19).

No, Jesus is not an undercover boss. He shows everyone that He is the Messiah. That He is life in person (John 11:25). Jesus brings life, as it pleases God.

And so He takes the cross on himself. The cross to be a sinner. He atones for all guilt on the cross of Golgotha. The guilt of the woman at Jacob´s well. The guilt of the tax cheater. He removes the legacies, so that the start with God is possible.

At first, John the Baptist could not understand this reversal of roles. But then Jesus said, "Let it happen now" (Matthew 3:15). This is the request to you and me: Allowing what Jesus Christ did for us. I should admit that I am a person who needs God's mercy. I want to let Jesus Christ give me a whole new life in his companion. I also want to accept, that Jesus looks close at me.

"Just let it be!" Jesus says. Allowing Jesus to question our old life - as with the woman at the Jacob's well. Allowing Jesus to seek fellowship with us. Allowing life to change - as with Zaccheus.  Simply allow. Everything else is done by Jesus. He wants us to live with Him one day on the heavenly chief suite.

I wish you a blessed week!

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© 2020 Hans-Peter Nann, Frankfurt am Main