THE FIRST RED LETTERS
The first red letters are not the Sermon on the Mount, The Great Commission, The Lord’s Prayer or even John 3:16. They are words spoken to John the Baptist and up until now may have seemed fairly insignificant. But they ARE the first of His words we come to when we begin to read the New Testament and that could be a clue that they may be more important than we might think. (I don’t think there are many coincidences with God, do you?) Here are those first Red Letter Words of Jesus:
“Let it be so for the present; we do well to conform in this way with all that God requires.” Matt 3:15
LET WHAT BE SO? Jesus had come to John to be baptized. John protested. (You probably would have too!) John says, “You come to be baptized by ME? I should be baptized by YOU!”
His feelings are justified; his position logical – but Jesus had come to do a specific job and this is part of it. So He responds very firmly to John’s protest: “Let it be so.” What is He really saying? In essence, Jesus says, “Allow this to happen”, or “Set aside your way and do it My way. Not just because I say so, but so that we can accomplish all that the Father requires – so we can get the job done.”
It would be good to note here that from those same lips, about three and a half years later just before He departs from that body, now bruised and broken, wounded and hanging from a cross, came these final words: “IT IS FINISHED!”
Those words are found in John 19:30. You will also find Him speaking about finishing what His Father had given Him in John 5:36 and 17:4. Paul also talks about finishing in Acts 20:24, and 2Timothy 4:7: “For myself, I set no store by life; I only want to finish the race, and complete the task which the Lord Jesus assigned to me, of bearing my testimony to the gospel of God’s grace. I have run the great race, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”
AS FOR MYSELF…
Are you living your life with the goal of finishing what God has in mind for you? Have you put any real thought and prayer into exactly what it is that God wants to accomplish with you? What about gifts and talents and calling? How do you know all that? How do you find out for sure what the will of God is for your life?
Well, that process starts for you very much like it did for John the Baptist the day he had to baptize Jesus. You must set aside your way and determine to know and follow His way.
This does not mean doing something mystical or super-spiritual. It simply means that you must begin to give room for the likelihood that His way will be different from yours. God clearly says, “Inquire of the Lord while He is present, call upon Him when He is close at hand… For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways. This is the very word of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
In John 6:66-68, many “disciples” were leaving Jesus and going back to their own pursuits. He turns to the twelve and asks, “Will you leave me too?” Then speaking for all who truly love Him, Peter answers, “Lord, where shall we go? Your words are words of eternal life.” That seems pretty courageous under the circumstances, but when you consider the absolute truth of Peter’s words it becomes a simple matter of life and death.
Are you willing to launch out of “safe waters” and drop anchor in Him? To love Him and believe in Him, means to do just that. We are to lay aside the old us and allow ourselves to be possessed, inhabited by Him.
This filling is what water baptism is all about. When Jesus was obedient to this detail in His Father’s design for Him, He laid down even His ways, thoughts, words and authority. God, the Son, laid aside all that He was to carry out the wishes of His Father.
From that point, He only did that which He had seen His Father do and said only what He heard Him say, giving us the perfect example of the simple but powerful life of a servant who KNOWS and DOES the will of God.
You can know what He wants – and He has provided all you will need to make sure you are able to do it!
It is interesting that in the Chronological Bible, the first Red Letters give basically the same message. They are Luke 2:49 – And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  “about my Father’s business?”