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Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Matthew 3:13-17, where the Bible says,   

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

 

I’m not a folk song kind of guy. I grew up in Detroit. I love Motown. I love Soul and Fusion music. I love classical music too by the way. So I’ve never been a 60/70’s folk song kind of guy. But there is a song from that era that I do like. And that song helps us get to the heart of just who Jesus is in our lesson for today. It’s the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Bridge over Troubled Water.” It was Paul Simon’s “humble little Gospel song.” He fell in love with the phrase, “a bridge over troubled water,” as he listened to the music of a southern Gospel singing group named the Swan Silvertones, and wrote it into his lyrics. Read a verse with me:

When you're weary, feeling small, When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all
I'm on your side, oh, when times get rough, And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down[1]

Powerful stuff, right? Well, almost. One can hear the yearning in the song for love’s power in action. Simon wants you to sing about being that bridge over troubled water for the ones you love, to be the one who can be counted on, and to be there to help in their time of need. The problem? We always seem to fail at that when it really counts! Ironically, this powerful song about selfless, sacrificial love actually had a hand in breaking up the duo of Simon and Garfunkel. Simon recalls the growing jealousy he felt when people congratulated Garfunkel on the song (Garfunkel was the singer of it, but not the writer). It wasn’t the words or the ideas of the song that failed them. It was the fact that neither Simon nor Garfunkel could live up to them.

Simon may have borrowed a few words from the Silvertone’s Gospel song, but he missed the actual Gospel itself. Jesus is the only one who laid down His life so that we might ALWAYS have life. In fact, Jesus isn’t merely a bridge over troubled water. He’s the one who entered our troubled water and went all the way in so that we might be saved. When Jesus was baptized by John, He didn’t do it because He was a sinner who needed repentance. No! He did it to “jump into” our turbulent waters so that He could be our Savior. When a person realizes that, then this song really says something. Sing a few bars of “Bridge over Troubled Water” with that in mind. You’ll see the power of the Gospel when Jesus dries your eyes. Jesus is on your side and He will comfort you. Jesus will take your sins and give you His life, all because of what Jesus began to accomplish when He allowed John to baptize Him. That’s who He is for you! Come to think of it, maybe I do like folk songs too. Let Jesus into your troubled waters; you’ll be glad you did!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thankfully You entered into our sinful lives so that we might be saved. Give us humble courage to bring our sins, our sorrows, our hopes, and our dreams to You in faith each and every day. AMEN.

 

[1] Words and Music by Paul Simon. © 1969 Paul Simon Music.

 

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