Ron Peri joined IBM after graduating from college and quickly rose to be a national account manager. He had always thought of himself as a businessman and when took a lucrative job at IBM Ron seemed to be on the fast track to corporate stardom. But one night, Ron dreamed that he had died and was being toured around hell. When he awoke, Ron could not shake the strong sense that there was nothing distinctively “Christian” about his life. His life was no different than that of any well-meaning atheist. Sure, he had answered Jesus’ call to “follow him,” but it didn’t seem like he had followed Jesus much of anywhere.
What would you do if you were Ron?
As people in business, we are given a lot of advice. Go here, go there, buy this, do that. Jesus took on human nature and experienced everything we face. It’s no surprise that he too was hassled by advice-givers. As Jesus started his public career, there were many voices vying for his attention. Among them were the voice of a renowned prophet, the voice of his heavenly father, and the voice of an adversary.
Jesus began his leadership career with a ritual, something like graduation for us today. For Jesus it was baptism. He went to a well-known and respected prophet named John to be baptized in the Jordan River. John’s job was to “prepare the way” for Israel’s Messiah (Matthew 3:3). He did this by preaching repentance and by talking about the leader who would come after him. John summed it up this way:
“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Matthew 3:11
Many people listened to John and repented from their sins. John baptized them. But when Jesus came to John for a baptism, it was another story. Jesus was the messiah that John was preparing people for! Surely John couldn’t baptize him! John tried to talk Jesus out of it:
But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him. Matthew 3:13-15
John had some advice for Jesus, but Jesus had the clarity from God not to listen. Jesus’ first public act was an act of submission. Through the baptism ritual, Jesus demonstrated that he took his orders from God, not people. Jesus described this as doing “all that God requires” (Matthew 3:15). From this career kick-start, Jesus showed people that he would follow God’s advice over and above the advice of people. John was a celebrity at the time, the first prophet in Israel in 400 years! Jesus was a tradesman, a nobody in leadership circles. But Jesus knew the voice he followed.
There is no calling without a caller. God was the one who called Jesus. God called Jesus to particular actions, such as baptism, and to a particular leadership style that we will explore in a future book release. All of Jesus’ choices came from his response to God’s call, which was nothing short of complete submission. Jesus recognized God’s voice, and he followed it. What voices do you listen to?