People came from all around to be baptized by John the Baptist. But, Galilee was 50-70 miles (100km) away. There isn’t a record of many people coming from there. So, Jesus, maybe traveled this long distance all on foot, along dusty roads.
JB tried to prevent him.
They said to each other, “baptize me. No, baptize me.”
JB’s baptism was only for sinners as a sign of repentance. Pharisees and Saduccees came to watch, but didn’t accept it – they were proud and thought “ha, we aren’t sinners.”
But, Jesus is sinless – he didn’t need JB’s baptism. He didn’t need repentance, forgiveness, but he said, “Baptize me. It is proper to fulfill all righteousness.”
One of the very important ideas in Jesus’ teaching is righteousness – so he mentions it several times in his Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled…Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…If you righteousness doesn’t surpass the teachers of the law, you cannot enter heaven…seek first his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”
“All righteousness” doesn’t mean to fulfill prophecy – so then what does Jesus mean? Righteousness is a very important idea in a Christian’s life. Righteousness means “right relationship” with the Father God. The Father sent Jesus and Jesus will obey and do all his will – this is part of it.
Several reasons why Jesus was baptized even though he didn’t need it:
#1: To confess sin on behalf of all human beings, the nation – like the prophets in the OT had done.
(Nehemiah 1:6 “Your servant, is praying day and night for the people of Israel – I confess the sins we have committed against you.”)
(Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me, because I’m a man of unclean lips, and I’m living among a people of unclean lips.”)
Let me encourage or challenge you about this question. If you have never confessed sins, you are not Christian. If you have only confessed your OWN sins, you aren’t a true Christian. You must confess not only your own sins, but also your family’s, your nation’s sins.
#2: To accomplish God’s mission and advance God’s work in the world.
For 30 years, Jesus had waited in Nazareth faithfully, performing the simple duties of a carpenter, but he knew all the time that a greater mission awaited him. When JB appeared, he knew his time had come. So, Jesus was baptized to initiate his public ministry to bring the message of salvation to all people in this world.
JB’s baptism was of water, of men, but Jesus approved it by being baptized by him.
#3: To identify himself with us – the sinners – the very people he came to save/serve.
To identify with the penitent (repentant) people of God.
Mark 16:6 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.”
Matthew (end) “Go and make disciples of all nations…”
To be a Christian, you must be baptized – if you aren’t, you must be – and you must help others to be baptized. Up to now, how many people became baptized through your help? (Challenge you).
JB’s baptism is different from our baptism today. JB’s was BEFORE Jesus, ours today is AFTER Jesus. JB’s means public confession of sin. Our baptism today means public confession of faith in JESUS as Savior, Lord, King.
Our baptism is an outward expression of an inward reality, His death, burial, resurrection.
#4: To foreshadow his future baptism on the cross
The water baptism pictured his self-emptiness, self-denial for our sins on the cross.
Due to these reasons, purposes, Jesus, our King, was baptized.
He went up out of the water,
- Heaven was opened
- HS descended like a dove
(The bulletin has this image – the dove is hard to see in the bright light though)
Isaiah 61:1-2 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to everyone, to proclaim the Year of the Lord’s Favor, to comfort those who mourn…”
The descent of the HS like a dove represents God’s mighty working in this world. In Genesis, in the beginning, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And at the time of Noah, the dove delivered the news to Noah about the decreasing waters. He sent out two birds (raven and dove), only the dove came back. The raven represented the flesh – there was plenty for the raven to eat (dead things) outside of the ark, but there was nothing for the dove to eat. The second time, it brought back an olive leaf. The third time, it didn’t come back.
The dove signifies the HS and his work in this world. It shows gentle and peaceful, but active presence coming to anoint Jesus Christ. From this, we can know who the Messiah is, how his power will be used. He was not revealed by a tiger, hawk, eagle, lion, but by a gentle and peaceful dove.
This is my Son, whom I live. With Him, I’m well pleased.
This is God’s direct announcement. This is a heavenly announcement to all human beings. In the NT, there are three special occasions in which God spoke to Jesus.
1. The Transfiguration –
on a high mountain with Peter, James, and John, a voice came from the cloud with the same sentence “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” (one sentence added).
2. As Jesus approached the cross –
“Father glorify your name” and God spoke “I have glorified it already, I will glorify it again.”
3. This instance.
Long ago, God spoke to the people through prophets, but nowadays, God speaks to his people through the Son.
Jesus is a different Son than we can be (sons). He is the One and Only (literal) Son of God. In the Greek “This is my [beloved] Son”
“This is…” means this sentence was spoken publicly to all who were there and to us.
“…and in Him I am well pleased…” means God has taken his eternal satisfaction (past, present, future) in His Son and this is the Age of the Messianic time now.
In v 16-17, we can see all persons in the Trinity, active. God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1) – God (the Father) spoke, “Let there be light” Jesus (the Son) was very active in the Creation as the Word (John 1:1) – The HS was hovering over the waters.
The doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that God is three persons, but one essence. This is one of God’s incomprehensible mysteries. Even now, God is working in the Trinity in us, in this world.
God bless us with his work.