Prof. Todd Johnson at Chapel: Say Yes to Your Baptism

The Fuller Community was invited to affirm their faith in Christ at All-Seminary Chapel

Todd Johnson delivers the chapel message on January 15, 2104

It was a time of remembrance and reflection at All-Seminary Chapel on January 15, 2014 as the Fuller community was asked to think of the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord, which is set apart by Christians in Eastern Orthodox Churches as a day for baptizing converts and for believers to affirm their baptisms.

"I invite you to consider saying yes to your baptism, to saying yes to being a disciple, and to praying that God will give you the courage to follow where Jesus leads," said Professor Todd Johnson, William K. and Delores S. Brehm Associate Professor of Worship, Theology, and the Arts.

Teaching from Matthew 3:13-17, Johnson opened with an illustration of what might come to mind when thinking about the baptism of Jesus Christ. He explained that whatever modern-day depictions spring up in our minds today, those who heard Matthew's account would know that he is saying, "The one is here. The promises we have been waiting for have been fulfilled in this Jesus."

The Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized Jesus had significant symbolic value, Johnson said. It was the threshold of the Promised Land that the Israelites stopped at before entering into the "new day." It was a place of miracle, as God miraculously had parted it to let the Israelites through. It was the place where each tribe of Israel placed a large stone "so when times got tough for God's people, they could look back on those stones and remember God's faithfulness to the past and give them hope for the future," Johnson said.

As the passage from Matthew describes Jesus entering the waters of the Jordan, it was an invitation for people to follow and accept him as God's messiah to fulfill the promises of justice, hope, and redemption.

"So how do you hear that now?" Johnson asked. "How do you see Jesus coming out of those waters? Is it just about him or is it God's yes, for all God's promises being found in Jesus?"

Johnson concluded with the charge for the Fuller community to remember and say yes to their commitment to Christ, to follow even in difficult times, and to be lights in the world wherever they go.

"That in this year, this place-Fuller Theological Seminary-might be seen as a place where God's light is evident to all people. May it begin with us."

Next week's All-Seminary Chapel will be a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. with special guest speaker Cheryl J. Sanders, senior pastor of Third Street Church of God in Washington, D.C., and professor of Christian Ethics at the Howard University School of Divinity.

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