Saturday, December 22, 2007

Matthew 3:14 The Baptism of Jesus Part II

John the Baptist testified numerous times that he was not the Christ and that the Christ was to come after him. John was humble and recognized his role as the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Sometimes in life, we have people who are convinced of their own importance and want to draw attention to themselves. Their motto seems to be “Look at me everyone.” John the Baptist was the antithesis of that type of person. We can observe his humility in his response to Jesus when He came to the Jordan to be baptized.

First of all, we notice that Matthew records John’s attitude toward Jesus coming to be baptized. John is said to have tried to prevent Him. The Greek word translated prevent is diakoluo. According to Vincent’s Word Studies, this verb is in the imperfect tense which means John had it in his mind to prevent Jesus from being baptized. There is also a Greek proposition attached which intensifies the force of the verb. In other words, John had strong objections to Jesus coming to him for baptism. So much so that he would have barred Him from taking part in the sacrament.

As we study further in this verse, we see why John had such strong feelings about this. First of all, John recognized not only who he was but who Jesus was. He said to him in verse 14 “I need to be baptized by You”. As a preacher to those in the wilderness of Judea, John was content to baptize those who came to him and repented of their sins. He was known as a wilderness man but he was also someone who sought the righteousness of God and had been filled with the Spirit of God since he was born. All in all, I think I’d be doing pretty well if I could be half as faithful to God as John was. But when he stood before God in human flesh, he shows humility. Not that he was proud and haughty before, but he recognizes that he is a sinner and is in the presence of the One who forgives sins. He knew the baptism he administered was merely a symbol of the spiritual reality that Christ would bring into this world. Therefore, he rightly recognizes that he needs what Jesus offers-true cleansing from sin. We should all pray for this kind of humble evaluation of ourselves. Whether we are pastors or laypersons, we all need to realize that we cannot achieve righteousness apart from our Lord Jesus.

Not only did he recognize his need of Christ’s baptism, but also Christ’s lack of need of his baptism. He said to him “…and are You coming to me?” He recognized the significance of the baptism he administered to those who come to him at the Jordan river. Those who came publically confessed of their sins and announced their repentance from those sins. Therefore, the baptism pictured a cleansing from sin. However, Jesus had no sin. John, in his question, not only recognizes Christ as the Messiah but also as the spotless Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. He acknowledges in his question not only his need of Christ but Christ’s sinlessness. This is an important point for us to consider. I have heard that an alarming number of Christians (professing) from all denominations have stated that they do not believe Jesus was sinless. Well, friend, if Jesus committed sin you and I have no hope whatsoever. The only way he could pay the price for our sin was for him to have no sin of his own. It is very important, therefore, that we observe not only John’s humble admission of his sinful state but also of Christ’s sinless perfection. We should praise God for clearly revealing these truths to us.

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

No comments: