Matthew 3:13 – 17 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
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 lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Jesus is now a thirty-year-old man. We’ve heard nothing about him since that long-ago day in the temple, when he was twelve. He has lived in obscurity, helping in the family carpentry business. But now . . . now is the time for his inauguration. His coronation. He approached John publicly, and asked to be baptized.
John, who had been telling everyone to get ready for the Messiah, was now at a loss. “Jesus, you know that baptism is for repentance and cleansing of sin. But you are sinless! You should be baptizing me! Why are you asking me to baptize you?”
But remember, Jesus didn’t come here to give a holier-than-thou, better-than-everyone appearance. He came to identify with sinners. And though He was sinless, He was also humble. He was willing to submit to a ritual that He had no need of. Just as He was willing to leave His throne in heaven and take the form of a human, He was willing to submit to baptism. He had no need for repentance or cleansing. But He wanted to relate to us. He wanted us to relate to Him.
So, He told John, “I know, but we need to do this so that I can fulfill my purpose here, and have a more effective ministry.”
Jesus’ example of humility contrasts with my own pride, sometimes. There have been times when I have been resistant, even unwilling, to do things I felt were beneath my position, or my talent, or my circumstances. But Jesus, the King of Kings, was willing to stoop to a ritual He had no need for, so that “all righteousness” could be fulfilled.
John was obedient to his Savior. As soon as Jesus came out of the water, the heavens opened up, and the Spirit of God descended on Him like a dove. At that time, the Jewish people would have recognized the dove as the sacrifice offered by those who were too poor to offer a bull or a lamb. Jesus was the sacrifice for all men, and the Holy Spirit was there to offer Him strength for the difficult journey ahead. For the next three years, Jesus would have no place to call home. He would know hunger and exhaustion, rejection and mockery. At the time of His baptism, the Holy Spirit anointed Him in a special way, giving Him power and strength to do all that He had to do.
Then, a voice came from heaven – the voice of God Himself! Here, we actually get to see the gathering of the Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all together in one place. The voice spoke, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Remember, sacrifices had been offered to God throughout the ages, but none were truly pleasing to God. Jesus was the spotless sacrifice, and God was pleased. The fact that God announced Jesus as His beloved Son is significant. It shows the sacrifice not only on Jesus’ part, but the sacrifice of the Father. Any parent who has ever watched their child suffer, or lost a child to death knows the deep, unspeakable pain and heartbreak that accompanies such an experience. God loved His Son, yet He loved us, too. He loved us so much that He was willing to let His Son go through the suffering, the poverty, the rejection, the beating, the torture, the bleeding, the cruel, shameful death . . . so that we might live.
Dear Jesus, Thank You. Amen.
For a second cup, see: Mark 1:9 – 11, 9:35 Luke 3:21 – 22, 9:35; Isaiah 11:2, 42:1; John 1:32 – 33, 12:28; Psalm 2:7; Ephesians 1:6; Colossians 1:13; 2 Peter 1:17