Sometimes I do not know.

[Matthew 3:13-17]

I talk with people. I usually understand what they are saying. In fact, I frequently translate what people are saying for the benefit of other people. I can translate from church to plain language. I can translate business to plain language.

Sometimes, though,  I know all the words and I still can’t translate.

“it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

That’s what Jesus says to John (the baptizing one). Jesus has come to the Jordan river where John is baptizing people. Jesus gets in line. John says, “Me put you under? You should baptize me.”

John’s exactly right. Dunking someone in a river is pretty vulnerable, for the dunkee. It’s a position of humility to be the one being washed. It’s what people who were acknowledging wrong did to show that they wanted to change their direction.

And John knew that the person he’d been talking about was Jesus: the really powerful, really authoritative, really significant person from the previous sentences.

So this made no sense. And then Jesus says, “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”


What does that mean, fulfill all righteousness?

David Turner, in a commentary I use, gives several possible answers that others have offered. Each tries to weave this sentence into the pages of the Bible that come before this sentence, or the pages that come after. Each reflects scholarship that leaves me humbly scuffing the dirt with my toe, a child in Bible study.

No wonder our eyes sometimes glaze when we try to explain the Bible to people trying to understand for the first time.

That’s okay. Sometimes you say, “maybe if I keep reading, I’ll understand.”

Because stories, like people, make more sense the more you know them.

One thought on “Sometimes I do not know.

  1. paul merrill

    A great reminder of the value of reading and re-reading the Scriptures. We can all use more of the Scriptures in our lives.

    I love how re-reading a passage can reveal new things – almost every time. It’s one of those unexplainable ways God works.

    -Paul Merrill for Wycliffe’s The Seed Company


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