Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Baptism of Christ

There are some things that God does, which seem deep and mysterious. The baptism of Christ is one of those. Perhaps you have even wondered about it before. So let's consider its significance together, beginning with the account of it in Matthew's gospel:

"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?' But Jesus answering said to him, 'Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he permitted Him." (Mat 3:13-15)

Why did Jesus Christ need to be baptized, since John's baptism was for repentance and Jesus did not need to repent of any sin? When He said that they should fulfill all righteousness, what kind of righteousness was He talking about, and to whom was He referring?

In response to these questions, I would like to share some of the answers given by Matthew Henry, John Wesley, and F.B. Meyer in their commentaries. What follows is a compilation of their comments on the matter along with my own.

The Lord seems to have meant that it becomes us to receive baptism (for Jesus to receive it and John to administer it), in order that He may fully perform every part of the righteous requirements (law) of God, and the commission God had given Him. He was also our example in all things, so that we might follow in His steps (1 Pe 2:21).

Though John denounced sins, he was humbly conscious of his own and tried to forbid that his own impure hands would baptize the One in whom he as a prophet of God could find no trace of impurity. Although Jesus knew no sin, He identified with us and stood with us and for us as sinners and assumed our guilt. He identified with our human condition in every way, and this was one such instance of Christ's great humility, whereby He graciously condescended. As the proverb says, "Humility comes before honor." (Pr 18:12). Therefore, before He received honor, He first abased Himself.

In doing this, the Lord also honored John in return for the work He had done, by allowing John to baptize Him. He set His seal of approval on John's ministry. John had honored God, and now God was honoring Him. Even though John's name had become great, he still remained very humble and did not consider himself worthy of this honor, but the Lord persuaded him to accept it.

John saw and publicly confessed his need to be baptized by Christ with the Holy Ghost, even though he was filled with the Holy Ghost from birth. The purest and best of souls recognize their own need to be washed by Christ and filled with His Spirit. And the better they are the more they recognize that need. Jesus did not deny that John needed to be baptized by Him, but insisted that He now be baptized by John.

Christ fulfilled the righteousness of the ceremonial law and it's requirement for various washings. He honored it and justified God in doing so. Then He later instituted it as a gospel ordinance and showed the virtue that He had designed to put into it. And the Father put His seal of approval on the baptism of Christ by baptizing Him with the Holy Ghost immediately afterward as Jesus came up out of the water. The Father honored Him in that way, even making the Spirit's descent visible, and by His own approval that was audible to those present. Scripture records:

"After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'" (Mat 3:16-17)

I hope this has helped to explain the reason why Jesus came to John to be baptized and how his baptism was a fulfillment of righteousness. Hopefully it also sheds light on its significance to us for our own lives today. If Jesus needed to be baptized in water and with the Holy Spirit, then so do we.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "Holy Spirit" and "Baptism" paintings © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend reading Holy Washings - Part I, Holy Washings - Part II, By the Spirit of God AloneBaptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire BaptismThe Son of Man, The Temptation of Christ, and The Bodily Form of the Holy Spirit. For more articles like this, please see the Home page of this blog. You can also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.  Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

No comments:

Post a Comment