Saturday, December 15, 2007

Matthew 3:13 The Baptism of Jesus part I

God is very particular in His timing. In Genesis, He told Abraham that his descendants would be in bondage in Egypt for 400 years and they were. He told several prophets in the Old Testament about the exile of Judah for 70 years and it came to pass. Jesus Christ lived for 30 years on this earth before he began His earthly ministry. While God did not choose to reveal why Christ labored in relative obscurity for those years, we do know that Jesus began His ministry in accordance with the will of God the Father. To begin that ministry, we see Him come to John to participate in John’s baptism at the Jordan River.

Observe with me first of all the great distance that Jesus traveled. The journey took Jesus from “Galilee to…Jordan”. Jesus grew up in Nazareth as noted in Chapter 2. As we read earlier in this chapter, John was baptizing in the wilderness of Judea. According to Bible scholars, this would have been about a 3 days journey. We’re not talking about a trip to the Quickie-mart to pick up some Diet Dr. Pepper. This was a journey made with a purpose. He had a single intent on this trip. Not only was the trip arduous, it was also voluntary. No one compelled Him to go to John. Of course, we know He was obedient to God the Father. However, as far as anything in the world was concerned, He was under no obligation to go and be baptized by John.

We notice also the humility our Lord demonstrated. He was the Lord of all creation. All things that were made were made through Him. He was the Light and the Life of men. He came as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to a sinner for baptism. Now, we know John was a righteous man in the sight of God. However, we also know that in Romans 3:23 that we all have sinned. Therefore, the God of the universe condescended and came to John. By rights, He could have sent for John and commanded him to come to Nazareth. Instead, He makes this trip and in doing so validates the baptism of John. Obviously, if God in human flesh is willing to come and participate in this baptism, that is about the best seal of approval you could get. When we are tempted to demand our rights and our own way, we should remember this example of humility that our Lord gave us and pray for the strength to behave likewise.

Finally, however, we notice that Jesus came to John for the purpose of being baptized. As we read this, I think a good question for us to ask is “Why?” John’s baptism was one of repentance. Repentance from personal, specific sin was the message John preached. However, Jesus was perfect. He had no sin nature and he never sinned. We’ll look at this more specifically in the next few verses, but Jesus’ baptism had nothing to do with sin but it did accomplish 3 things. First of all, as we observed earlier, it validated John’s baptism. 2nd of all, it gave the opportunity for a miraculous sign as a proof of His Divinity when the voice from heaven spoke. Finally, it signified that He was being set apart for His ministry by being ceremonially washed. By humbly making the long journey from Nazareth to Judea, Jesus publically demonstrated His commitment to His Father’s will.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

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