Maybe it was the late hour of the night when I was reading and writing, but Matthew’s description of Jesus’ baptism made me think of a YouTube video I watched years ago. It was a clip from a TV show called “Britain’s Got Talent.” (I’ve included a video link at the bottom of this post.)
The first time I saw this video I was a little overwhelmed. Mabye, just maybe… this grown man teared up a little.
For when Susan Boyle stepped out on the stage something amazing happened. Of course, at first people laughed at her. She was so awkward. Her homely dress did nothing to flatter her frumpy figure. Wisps of hair stuck out in all directions. She didn’t look anything like an American Idol. People visibly rolled their eyes, mocked her and let out a collective sigh of disappointment. Just another loser, another reject. Even the judges snickered at her, especially when Susan said that she wanted to have a singing career like the famous Elaine Paige. The whole scene… it was just absurd.
But then the music started.
Now, I have always been a fan of the musical Les Miserables. I find the music moving, especially the song “I Dreamed a Dream. But when Susan Boyle began to sing it, it was more than just a good rendition. It was the whole story! Her countenance was the complete incarnation of the lyrics themselves. It was amazing!
People who had previously sighed in disappointment now gasped. The sound of her voice was beautiful, but this woman had suddenly become beautiful, too. It was as if a veil had been lifted and what was once hidden was now made crystal clear, and it took everyone’s breath away. No one had expected to hear what they heard. NO ONE! Funny enough, Susan tried to leave the stage not realizing what a hit she was. Everyone called her back.
Disregarded as a joke. Written off, before she started. Later the world would find out that this forty-seven year old woman had never even been kissed We’d learn that she had Asperger’s— a developmental disorder that is classified as a condition on the autism disorder spectrum. Indeed, as the song’s lyrics so poignantly state: Life’s circumstances had truly killed the dream Susan Boyle had dreamed, but this woman who had been the furthest thing from a star, was now the brightest in the constellation–brighter than anyone could have ever imagined. Her first album broke all records in sales.
But what does Susan Boyle have to do with baptism?
Well, maybe Susan Boyle’s story isn’t the best analogy to start a discussion on baptism, but I can’t help but wonder if her experience is what it’s going to be like on the Last Day when Jesus returns. Philippians 2 says that on that day “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” On that day, Jesus will gather together his people, and in a moment–not unlike Susan’s moment on the stage of “Britain’s Got Talent”–the most beautiful transformation in all of history will take place. Sinners like you and me will suddenly be revealed as the sons and daughters of God.
All the ordinary… all the disappointment… all the teasing… all the false expectations… all the pain… all the hate… all the disregard… all the times there was no compassion… all the treating like a doormat… all the misunderstandings… all the embarrassment… all the failures… all the sin… all the ways we abuse each other… mistreat each other… hurt each other… all the ways we rip people apart with our words… the ways we make fun of others because they didn’t live up to our expectations and standards…
All of it is going to melt away. There on the cusp of eternity, we will stand as something beautiful and new.
But this, too, is a beautiful way to think about Holy Baptism. This side of heaven, baptism seems so ordinary to us, and it doesn’t seem to make much visible difference in our lives. But a promise is made in Baptism, a promise that one day we will finally see… see the truth behind the ordinary. Baptism is like an adoption that won’t be fully recognized by this world until THAT day when Jesus returns.
Now, I’m not saying that baptism is a magic pass into heaven. Faith is what saves, and faith is simply trusting in and following Jesus. But how wonderfully sweet it is to find Jesus, today, standing in the waters of Holy Baptism. In Matthew 3 we read that the heavens open and Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus. Then God speaks words of love and affirmation to His Son.
For all who are baptized into Christ, we know these same words of affirmation apply to us. Indeed, not only can we through baptism be assured of God’s love, we also know that in baptism we receive the Holy Spirit. just hear the words of Acts 2:38 which says, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus, for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Later the Apostle Paul will describe the work of The Holy Spirit after baptism in our Christian lives. In Romans 8, he says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Paul continues: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”
But the best part comes when Paul says…“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
I love this passage!
The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
I can’t wait till that day, either.
In the meantime, I’ll be sure to look differently at all those “ordinary” people that I sometimes so quickly dismiss or disregard.
One day, all the Susan Boyles of the world will be celebrated.