When you’re too concerned about what others think of you:
Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honour me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God.” — 1 SAMUEL 15:30
Saul was more concerned about what others would think of him than he was about the status of his relationship with God (15:24). He begged Samuel to go with him to worship as a public demonstration that Samuel still supported him. If Samuel had refused, the people probably would have lost all confidence in Saul.
John put his aside to point others to Jesus:
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.” Then John consented. — MATTHEW 3:15
Put yourself in John’s shoes. Your work is going well, people are taking notice, everything is growing. But you know that the purpose of your work is to prepare the people for Jesus (John 1:35-37). The Jesus arrives, and his coming tests your integrity [war]. Will you be able to turn your followers over to him? John passed the test by publicly baptising Jesus. Soon he would say, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Can we, like John, put our egos and profitable work aside in order to point others to Jesus? Are we willing to lose some of our status so that everyone will benefit?
John had been explaining that Jesus’ baptism would be much greater than his, when suddenly Jesus came to him and asked to be baptised! John felt unqualified. He wanted Jesus to baptise him. Why did Jesus ask to be baptised? It was not for repentance to sin because Jesus never sinned. “To fulfil all righteousness” means to accomplish God’s mission. Jesus saw his baptism as advancing God’s work. Jesus was baptised because (1) he was confessing sin on behalf of the nation, as Nehemiah, Ezra, Moses, and Daniel had done; (2) he was showing support for what John was doing; (3) he was inaugurating his public ministry; (4) he was identifying with the penitent people of God, not with the critical Pharisees who were only watching. Jesus, the perfect man, didn’t need baptism for sin, but he accepted baptism in obedient service to the Father, and God showed his approval.
©Kingsway International Church 1973.