“Suffer it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
Jesus to John the Baptist
Jesus came to John to be baptized, but John was hesitant. His spirit told him this man before him was the incarnate Creator. It just didn’t seem right. Their roles had become reversed somehow and John had questions about that which needed to be answered before he would do it.
God is not afraid of our questions. I dare say God is more willing to supply answers than we are to hear them.
Perhaps the first question that comes to mind is, why did Jesus, the sinless Son of God, need to be baptized in the first place? The answer lies in an understanding of baptism. Baptism does not remove sin. It is a testimony of faith in God. Jesus ever the Faithful Witness, would not miss an opportunity to testify of God’s good will toward men. He went to be baptized as an example.
John understood that. His question was about his own unworthiness for the job. This is the man of whom Jesus would later say, “there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist”. Yet, face to face with Deity, John shrank with feelings of unworthiness.
I think every Christian can identify with John. We have had the feeling of not being equal to the task God sets before us or of being worthy of the blessings we enjoy. From a purely human perspective, those feelings are both true and false. Nobody’s perfect, or as the scripture puts is “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. We are not worthy to stand before God as equals, or as co-creators of a mass consciousness as some would have us believe. On the other hand, we are told God fits us for the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, we are worthy participants in the kingdom.
From a Divine point of view, one unbound by time, because we have given our lives as a living sacrifice to Him, we are forever worthy to do whatsoever He asks of us and to hear, “well done, thou good and faithful servant”.
Jesus told John to “suffer it to be so”. You will find newer translations that substitute allow or permit in place of the word suffer. The meaning is the same, as are the implications. Permit God to call on you when He wants a person who can be trusted. Allow God to use you, He knows you can do it even when you have doubts.
It is in our power to say no. We are creatures with free will, able to choose our course. By allowing for God’s faith in us, we subjugate our feelings of unworthiness and fulfill the righteous requirements of faith.
We need not be afraid when God calls on us. It is no sin to feel unworthy or unequal to the task. It is a sin to refuse to answer the call. Whom God calls, He qualifies equips, and empowers.
I am reminded just now of the story of Peter bringing his boat to shore after fishing all night and catching nothing. Jesus instructed him to cast his net once more. Peter told Jesus they had gone all night without success but because it was Jesus who said so they would try again. The net nearly broke from the weight of the fish they caught. When our expertise fails, God’s power begins.
When you feel the Spirit move—allow it to be so. John baptized Jesus and the heavens opened. Those standing by saw the dove and heard the voice because one man, feeling unworthy, answered God’s call.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
Suffer it to be so now.