Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:
Whenever picking teams, someone must first be chosen to be captain. It is the captain who then picks the team.
To be chosen for a team or for an award is to be designated as special. Although some of us may not enjoy the “fame” that goes along with being chosen in these cases, very few of us would reject the opportunities that go along with being selected.
Even so, people find ways to turn this whole process around. “I wasn’t chosen. I decided to play for them or work for them.” Sounds kind of silly, but people do find ways to put the emphasis on the wrong syl-LABLE.
We see this happen repeatedly in the Christian faith and especially when it comes to salvation and baptism. Among many so-called “evangelical” churches salvation is often framed as “my decision.” I’m never quite sure what they do with Jesus’ own words (John 15:16), You did not choose me, but I chose you…
In a similar fashion, many Protestants who practice “believer’s baptism,” consider baptism as “their choice,” an act of faithful obedience. Is that what baptism is; a human activity; the product of the will? A choice? Or is this again, putting the emphasis on the wrong syl-LABLE?
When God says in Isaiah (42:1), Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights… He appears to be directing this at Israel (Isaiah 41:8), but Christians interpret this passage as God pointing forward to the true embodiment of Israel, Jesus the Christ. It is Jesus who is chosen to be the Captain of the team and it will be through Him that the team gets chosen.
When Jesus arrives to be baptized by John, he doesn’t say, “Well, I decided that today would be a good day to be baptized because I was feeling real close to God.” No, Jesus comes out of the blue to where John is baptizing, and he does so because it will fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Jesus has come because he has been chosen to fulfill all that God has planned for him and for us.
In Jesus’ baptism God will put His Spirit upon him (Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 3:16) and the Lord who called Jesus in righteousness (Isaiah 42:6) will make him our righteousness. It is only because Christ was first chosen that we can then be chosen as the Holy Spirit calls and gathers us together through the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
We have been chosen, not because of some ability on our part or because we finally “got it” or made some spectacular decision. No, we have been chosen by God’s grace because Christ was first chosen to do what we could not do.
I am baptized because Jesus was first baptized for me in those waters and in his death. I am chosen because Jesus was first chosen to live, die and rise for me and for you.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them. – Isaiah 42:9
Know this: in Christ God has chosen you!
Grace be with you,