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John the Baptist – Part 2


John the Baptist Part 2

Matthew 3:13-17 

In our last study, we looked at the ministry of John the Baptist, and we noticed that his ministry was a clear and unambiguous gospel message, of Repentance from sin, turning to Christ, the only Saviour, the application of Christ’s saving work by the Holy Spirit, warning about failure to repent, and danger of the terrible judgment of God, and the safety and security of those who are Christ’s. So let’s look at an encounter with the Lord Jesus at Jordan and ask why Jesus was baptised at Jordan? Let’s examine this very interesting incident from the ministry of John and see what lessons we can learn from it. I want to break this passage up into three distinct conversations:-

1 John Speaks to Jesus. Matthew 3:13-14  

Now, see:-

a) John’s Astonishment. John had been baptising at Jordan when a figure appeared out of thecrowd. It was Jesus.

  1. Jesus came from Galilee. Jesus returned from Egypt as a very small child with Mary and Joseph, and they lived at Nazareth. He was now thirty years old and came to Jordan, where John had been preaching, preparing the way for His coming. So…
  2. Jesus came to John. He came to be baptised and he was coming specifically to be baptised BY JOHN, who had been foretelling the coming of the Messiah. Jesus thus identifying Himself with John’s ministry John 1:29  

b) John’s Meekness. John immediately admitted his own unworthiness. Yet Jesus was coming to be baptised by John. Look at John’s words:-  I have need to be baptised of thee, and comest thou to me

  1. He was not worthy to baptise Jesus. John tried to prevent Jesus from coming to him for baptism. At this time. John was an extremely popular figure. Great crowds were coming out to hear him preach. Matthew 3:5 Yet before the Lord, he bowed down and was submissive.  John recognised that no-one is worthy to minister to the Lord Jesus. We have absolutely nothing within us that would commend us to Him. We are at best unprofitable servants.
  2. He confessed that he himself needed Christ. He said, “I need to be baptised of you.” It is no shame to admit our needs before the Lord. The closer we get to Jesus, the more we will become acutely aware of our own imperfections, and the more we will need to confess our sins. 

c) John’s Obedience. But John obeyed the Lord, and the baptism took place.

2 Jesus Speaks to John. Matthew 3:15  

John’s baptism was a token of the forgiveness ofsins. READ Matthew 3:11 But Jesus was sinless, spotless, the Lamb of God. It is the very basis of our justification and salvation that Jesus who had no sin, took our sin upon Himself at the Cross. 2 Cor. 5:21  But Jesus was baptised TO FULFIL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS. What did He mean?

  • He would fulfil the OT Law. How many of the Ten Commandments can you keep?  And bear in mind that even to think any of these things are wrong. You could never do it. Even if you could, the very minute that you began to congratulate yourself, that’s pride. You have sinned. We can NEVER FULFIL THE LAW, so we can never have a relationship with God. But Jesus has fulfilled the Law for His People. READ Matthew 5:17God could never remove the Law. His demands for righteousness under the Law are still there and still apply, but for the Christian Jesus has done what we could never do. He fulfilled every Law of God for us, and we who receive His righteousness are now free from the law. Of course, we must still obey the Lord, but now our obedience to Him is out of love, not out of law. So in that way, Jesus at His baptism was symbolically promising what He would do for His people. 
  • He would pay our debt. But HOW would Jesus fulfil the OT law for us? Do you know that there is a link between Baptism and death? We usually think of baptism as being connected with a new life. Romans 6:3-4  At His baptism, Jesus was showing that He would die. 
  • He was demonstrating his humility. When He came into this world, He laid aside His glory and majesty for us. He emptied himself, he made himself of no reputation. He took upon himself the form of a servant, He was made in the likeness of man. (Phil. 2:6-7) So at His baptism He was identifying with those He came to save.
  • He was marking the start of his earthly ministry. John 1:31-34 Now, why would Jesus have.begun His ministry with baptism? Again. the answer is, to fulfil all righteousness. Jesus is our Great High Priest. Hebrews 4:14  In Israel, the High Priest was always baptised before commencing his ministry in the temple. Exodus 29:4-7  

3 The Father Speaks of the Son, Matthew 3:16-17 

Now notice what happened when Jesus went up out of the river Jordan. There was immediately a visible and audible sign of God’s pleasure with His Son. We see the Trinity of the Godhead for the first time in the NT. God the Son was baptised, God the Holy Spirit descended upon the Son and God the Father spoke His approval of the Son. All Three acting together. The Trinity is both Co-equal and co-eternal. Let’s see how this happened:-

  • The heavens opened. Now the Bible does not explain this any further, whether it was just the sky that opened, or whether Jesus and John were given a special vision of heaven, such as John later describes in Revelation 
  • The Spirit descended like a dove. Now we often depict the Holy Spirit as being a dove. But the Bible says that He descended LIKE a dove. The manner of His descent was similar to the descent of a dove. He came and alit upon the Lord.
  • The voice of God was heard. It was a divine approbation of Jesus.
  1. This is MY SON. He is the eternal Son of the Father, begotten not created, eternally generated by the Father.
  2. This is my BELOVED Son. See here the relationship of love within the persons of the Godhead. Eternally, God is Love – the Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and the father and Son love the Holy Spirit. Love consists in God, and real love flows from him. He demonstrates for us what love actually is. 
  3. In whom I am WELL PLEASED. READ Isaiah 42:1  Matthew Henry points out that God does not say ‘with whom’ but rather IN whom.’ He notes that as Christians we are IN CHRIST also. IN CHRIST God is pleased with us.

In Jesus God has spoken to man. READ Hebrews 1:1-2  So the Baptism of Christ was very important indeed. There was great symbolism in it, as Jesus symbolised how He would fulfil the Law of God for sinners, and God showed His divine approval of His own Son.

© Bob McEvoy

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