John the Baptist, in Matthew 3:13-17, felt he was the one who needed to be baptized, but instead he was the baptizer. Jesus came to his cousin to be baptized. A voice from heaven declared, “This is my son, the beloved with whom I am well pleased” (v. 17). Matthew uses the story to liken Jesus to Moses, who passed through the waters of the Red Sea.

Sometimes we preoccupy ourselves with important questions to the extent that we overlook another equally important question. For example, “Why did Jesus have to be baptized?” But let us not overlook the equally important question, “What did baptism mean to Jesus?” Did it mean the time of the kingdom of God is now? Surely, did it mean an identification with the Father? I think so. But it was also an experience of blessing for Jesus. God said, “You are on the right track. Continue with my blessing.” The voice of blessing is one that many people take for granted. Many people wander through life, like Esau, searching for a blessing that is never pronounced. We can see this today

A single mother, upon leaving for a date, shuts the door on her teenage daughter who is staying home alone — again. “If only she didn’t look so much like her father.” An adult male sits in church today dreading the parent dedication service, asking, “Why did my parents abandon me?”

On the other hand, Bobby who was as athletically gifted as a hoe handle did not make his high school baseball team, to no one’s surprise. But he did ask to be the manager — some said “batboy” — and he became a part of the team. He played the hand that he had been dealt.

What’s an “unblessed child” to do? Feel inferior? Strike out in bitterness? Curse the dark silence of a voice never heard? The voice of approval. “You are my Son. You are headed in the right direction. Continue all the way to the cross.” All the way to the cross!

Blessing involves responsibility. Jesus lived in the obedience after receiving the blessing. He took the hand he had been dealt and he played it. That’s what we can do. That may be all we can do. We must be like Jesus and let nothing deter us. The crowds wanted to make him king. He resisted. His best friend wanted him to be king. He refused. Judas tried to force another course. Jesus chose to play the hand God had dealt. We can do the same.

Other significant friends and family members may fail to bless us even under the best of circumstances. Other times we may not feel worthy of blessings. As in Jesus’ most famous story, the parent waits to bless whether or not we are worthy. God’s offer his prevenient love to us, but are we willing to place our self in a position to receive his grace?

J.B. Morris leads the Rock Hill United Methodist Church.