This is the sermon for Sunday, May 1st, 2011.
Matthew part 6
Matthew 3:13-17 NIV 2011 – 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16 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 alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Last time we looked at John the Baptist as the forerunner of the coming Messiah – Jesus of Nazareth. We saw that he was a man with a message; and that message was repentance. His message also prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah.
Now we are going to see that the Messiah – Jesus – has come to be baptized.
There are a few things we can say about the baptism of Jesus that will prepare us for unpacking our text:
- It is a beautiful picture of humility. Here Jesus, the perfect, sinless Son of God is being baptized by a sinner, whose sins can only be washed by Jesus alone. Yet Jesus willingly submits to this baptism for the sake of the Father’s plan.
- This is the public beginning of His ministry. So this baptism isn’t a private one, but a very public one.
- John’s baptism had two purposes: (1) To prepare Israel for their Messiah; (2) To prepare the Messiah for Israel.
Notice what John the Baptist says in John’s Gospel.
John 1:31 – I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Let’s begin unpacking our text this morning.
Matthew 3:13-15 – 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
John recognized the superiority of Jesus over Himself.
- Notice he says in v. 14, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
- John knew that when it came to Jesus, no one compared. Here John is, though he may be the greatest born among men, he is still a sinner, and yet the perfect sinless one has come to be baptized by John.
- John also recognized that it should be himself being baptized by Jesus, not the other way around.
There is an important principle for us to learn here: Christ brings everything to the table when it comes to our salvation, we don’t bring anything but our sinful selves.
- We may think we are special, but we are nothing compared to Jesus Christ. We are the one in need, and we must humbly accept that fact.
Jesus came to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness.
- Notice Jesus full acceptance of the Father’s plan: Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
- What does the expression, “fulfill all righteousness” mean? I think that the commentary, Constable’s expository notes explains it very well: “An important prerequisite to understanding Jesus’ words is an understanding of the meaning of “righteousness.” Matthew’s use of this word is different from Paul’s. Paul used it mainly to describe a right standing before God, positional righteousness. Matthew used it to describe conformity to God’s will, ethical righteousness. Jesus understood that it was God’s will for John to baptize Him. There is no Old Testament prophecy that states that Messiah would undergo water baptism, but there is prophecy that Messiah would submit Himself to God. That spirit of submissiveness to God’s will is primarily what John’s baptism identified in those who submitted to it. Consequently it was appropriate for Jesus to undergo John’s baptism, and John consented to baptize Him. In doing so, Jesus authenticated John’s ministry and identified Himself with the godly remnant within Israel.”
In our day, water baptism is still about identification.
- We identify with Jesus death and resurrection through the waters of baptism.
- So one work that is done in the act of baptism is our submission to God’s will. We humble ourselves before Him and submit to follow Him, identifying with both the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 3:16-17 – 16 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 alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Not only were those around the water witnesses to Jesus baptism, but heaven itself.
- Notice, “heaven was opened,” “the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him,” and the voice of the Father saying, “This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.”
- All of the God-head is present and active in Christ’s baptism. So the Trinity is in beautiful display here at the Jordan that day.
Something very similar happens at the believer’s baptism – the whole of the Trinity is witness and is involved.
- We are baptized into Christ – identifying with both His death and resurrection.
- The Father accepts us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We who have done nothing redeemable and because of our sins are unlovable, God declares as righteous and is therefore pleased with us because Jesus fulfilled all righteousness – meaning, He fulfilled all the ethical requirements of the Law in our place.
- And the Holy Spirit fills every believer, alighting on us.
As we conclude, Christ has fulfilled all the ethical righteous requirements of the Law. He has gone to the cross, enduring God’s wrath in our place and was raised from the dead for our justification. We as those who have been redeemed by Him and put our faith and hope in Him alone, submit to the will of God by identifying with His death and resurrection in our baptism. And all the God-head is a witness and rejoices when believers are baptized into Jesus Christ.