31 Days with the Savior: Baptized

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Gentle Reader,

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’

But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'” – Matthew 3:13-17 (NKJV)

I’ve heard and read debates on why Jesus went to be baptized. We know that He wasn’t repenting of anything, so what was the point?

“Jesus sometimes also fulfilled the prophetic Scriptures by identifying with Israel’s history and completing its mission (Matthew 2:15, 18). This baptism hence probably represents Jesus’ ultimate identification with Israel at the climactic stage in its history: confessing its sins to prepare for the kingdom (Matthew 3:2, 6).

If this suggestion is correct, then Jesus’ baptism, like His impending death (compare Mark 10:38-39 with Mark 14:23-24, 36), is vicarious, embraced on behalf of others with whom the Father has called Him to identify (Lampe 1951:39). This text declares the marvelous love of God for an undeserving world-especially for us who by undeserved grace have become His disciples.” (IVP Commentary, found under the “Study This” tab).

Just as Jesus did nothing to deserve death but willingly went to it, so here He has done nothing to require repentance and the act of baptism, but He goes willingly. From start to finish, He identifies with and takes up for humanity. He inaugurated His earthly ministry by providing an example of turning from the old to the new. (Not that Jesus rejected the Law; no, He came to fulfill it, per Matthew 5:17). He is moving from His life as the carpenter’s son and into the three turbulent, amazing years that would culminate in Resurrection.

But that’s not what arrests me in this little scene.

I love John’s reaction. He’s like, “Jesus, what? What are you doing? You need to do this for me. I’m not worthy to tie your shoes.” Can you imagine how his arms must have been shaking as he lowered Jesus into the water? Despite being filled with the Holy Spirit all his life (Luke 1:15), maybe John told himself, “Don’t mess up. DO NOT mess this up!”

I love that. I love how God comes onto the scene and invites people to take part in the action.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all entries in the Jesus: 31 Days with the Savior series, go here.

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2 thoughts on “31 Days with the Savior: Baptized

  1. Well, first of all, John didn’t invent baptism. Jews, since ancient times, immersed, usually in a mikvah for a variety of reasons having to do with ritual cleansing. In John’s case, his immersion was a one-time event, and was in response to those who had repented of their sins (Jesus’s major theme in his sermons) and who were returning to God. We see a more complete picture of this when, in Matthew 28:19, Jesus commanded the apostles to baptize the people of the nations (non-Jews, which at the time was an extremely radical idea) in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, something I think Jesus was a forerunner of in the baptism by John you describe.

    This has to be tied into the receiving of the Holy Spirit which occurred immediately after the baptism of Jesus. I always used to wonder why Jesus didn’t have the indwelling of the Spirit all his life, but this act too is a forerunner of what happens to us when we come to faith. We see this in Acts 2, 9 and 10 where both Jews and Gentiles receive the Spirit in the same manner.

    Jesus, as the mediator of the New Covenant, was the living embodiment that the New Covenant promises were going to come true. Both Jeremiah 31:31 and later and Ezekiek 36 testify to a future time, when Jesus returns, when we will all as believers, receive the Holy Spirit in such abundance, that even the least among us will have a connection to God greater than the greatest prophets including John the Baptist or even Moses and Abraham. I believe Jesus had that completeness of the Spirit within him at the moment the Spirit landed on him after baptism, and this enabled him to say “the Father and I are one.” What we have now is a foretaste and a mere shadow of what we will receive when “Kingdom Come” on earth when Jesus returns.

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    1. I know that Jews practiced baptism before John came around, but admittedly haven’t researched the topic in-depth. I do wonder about the Holy Spirit thing. I’ve heard different views on whether or not Jesus was indwelt before or after His baptism, but I’m not sure what I think about it.

      As always, thanks for the thoughts, James!

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