Movie of the Week: The Greatest Story Ever Told by George Stevens 1965
Clip: 26:30 – 31:00
Old Testament: Isaiah 40:1-11
New Testament: Matthew 3
John the Baptist is one of the most intriguing figures in the Bible. One of the most confusing moments in the Bible is when Jesus asks John to baptize him. I’m not sure I’ve ever completely understood why Jesus allowed John to baptize him. This scene as depicted in The Greatest Story Ever Told does a great job of illustrating the confusion John must have felt when Jesus asked him to baptize him. John asks him the same question we would, “Shouldn’t you be the one baptizing me?” Jesus’ response is tinged with mystery, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires” (Matthew 3:15 NLT).
Here, Jesus makes his submission to the Father clear. I think Stanley Hauerwas helps make sense of all this.
“John was, of course, right that he should not be the one to baptize Jesus. Yet Jesus refuses John’s refusal. ‘For now,’ Jesus says, he must be baptized by John. Jesus must submit to be baptized by John ‘for now’ because it is in this way all righteousness will be fulfilled, that is, through Jesus’s obedience . . .
Jesus’s response to John – ‘Let it be so for now’ – sums up, therefore, the form his obedience to the Father must take. ‘Let it be so for now’ anticipates his prayer in the Garden ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’ Jesus, the One without sin, submits to John’s baptism and by so doing heralds the obedience of his life, which we name ‘incarnation.’”
Richard Foster includes submission among the spiritual disciplines. He explains:
“It is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way. The obsession to demand that things go the way we want them to go is one of the greatest bondages in human society today. People will spend weeks, months, even years in perpetual stew because some little thing did not go as they wished. They will fuss and fume. They will get mad about it. They will act as if their very life hangs on the issue. They may even get an ulcer over it.
In the Discipline of submission we are released to drop the matter, to forget it. Frankly, most things in life are not nearly as important as we think they are.”
This entire season of Lent is a good time to practice submitting to God. We are so used to the world revolving around our own wants and desires and getting things done the way we want them done. Seldom do we do things or go places that we do not want to go. Submitting to God is about allowing him to take us places we don’t want to go or to do things we don’t want to. Submission is about giving up control. Spend some time today thinking about what it would mean to your life if you more fully submitted to God. Think of one or two things you can do today to give up control. It can be something simple – like giving money away to someone and not asking what they are going to do with it or allowing your spouse or someone else to choose the restaurant you eat at or what you watch on television. Now imagine giving your life over to God in a similar way but with weightier issues – let him have total control.
 Stanley Hauerwas, A Cross-Shattered Church, (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2009), 118-119.
 Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline, 1988 ed., (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1978), 111.