The Baptism of Jesus

The Perfect Example for Every Disciple

Matthew 3:15

Christ Assembly

 

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Eternal Life

The Baptism of Jesus forms the perfect model for every saint; every saint should be baptized, and follow Jesus and His baptism. We can learn more about believer’s baptism by studying the baptism of Jesus.

John  the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus was coming and He had His winnowing fork in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into His barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. John was the prophet who would prepare the way for Jesus. John was the prophet of the Most High, who will go before the Lord to prepare His way (Luke 1:76; Matthew 3:1-3). Then Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John the Baptist to be baptized by him. 1In the Gospel of Matthew, the term “Then” (“Τότε“) often means consecutive time. See The Key to Prophecy.

When Jesus came to John for baptism, John tried to prevent Jesus, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 2John tried to prevent (“διεκώλυεν αὐτὸν“) Jesus from being baptized with words. John sought baptism from Jesus, because John knew that John was a sinner and that Jesus could baptize everyone with the Holy Spirit. Jesus would not baptize saints with the Holy Spirit until Pentecost, after His ascension. Jesus replied: “Permit now; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then John permitted Jesus. 

What does the phrase “fulfill all righteousness” mean in this context? In order to answer that question, we should first focus upon several words in Matthew 3:15. The words “time,” “us,” “fulfill” and “righteousness” provide four pillars for understanding the phrase (fulfill all righteousness).

 

Section One

Time Marker: Now

1.1 Permit Now. Jesus commanded John: “Permit now.” 3Jesus said: “You permit now” (“ἄφες ἄρτι“). Jesus used the aorist active imperative for “permit ” (“ἄφες“). In Matthew, Jesus used the term “permit” (“ἄφες”) in several ways. In Matthew 5:40, Jesus said: “permit” (“ἄφες“) the person suing you for your shirt to have your coat also. In Matthew 7:4, Jesus related a story: “permit” (“ἄφες“) me to take the speck out of your eye.” In Matthew 8:22, Jesus said to “permit” (“ἄφες“) the dead to bury their own dead.” Jesus issued John a direct command to permit the baptism. Jesus was not seeking permission, but directing John to action. Jesus also used the term “now.” 4In Matthew 9:18,  a synagogue official told Jesus to come immediately, because his daughter had died now (“ἄρτι“). In Matthew 11:12, Jesus talked about the kingdom suffering from the days of John the Baptist until now (“ἕως ἄρτι”). In Matthew 23:39, Jesus said that you will not see me “from now until when” (“ἀπ’ ἄρτι ἕως ἂν εἴπητε“) you say, “Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!”  In Matthew 26:29 Jesus said that He would not drink of this fruit of the vine “from now” (“ἀπ’ ἄρτι”) until that day (“ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης“) when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Jesus also said that upon His appeal to His Father, He would provide to Me now (“ἄφες”) more than twelve legions of angels?” In Matthew 26:64, Jesus said to the High Priest that “from now” (“ἀπ’ ἄρτι“) you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven. In all those passages, Jesus used the present moment as a time marker. In the program of God, the exact time for the baptism of Jesus had arrived. Jesus left Galilee, came to John, and commanded John to baptize Him now.

 

Section Two

Us

2.1 Us.  Jesus said it was fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus used the word “us.” While some people claim we do not have the very words of Jesus recorded in the Bible, Matthew indicated that he recorded the exact words of Jesus in the original autographs. No matter what language (Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic) Jesus spoke to the people that day, Matthew translated that word as “us.” Matthew meant that both John and Jesus would each individually and together do something very important with the baptism.

 

Section Three

Fulfill

3.1 Both Fulfill. Jesus said that both John the Baptist and Jesus would fulfill all righteousness. In this context, the term “fulfill” means to fulfill Scripture. In Nehemiah 9:8, a group of Levites praised Yahweh for His creation, choosing Abraham, and giving the promised land to the people. The Levites then said “You have fulfilled Your  word,  for righteous You are.” Nehemiah wrote that Yahweh fulfilled His word because He is righteous. 5Nehemiah wrote “You have fulfilled Your  word,  for righteous You are” (“תָּ֨קֶם֙ אֶת־דְּבָרֶ֔יךָ כִּ֥י צַדִּ֖יק אָֽתָּה“). Nehemiah used the common word for “you stand” (“תָּ֨קֶם֙“) to describe Yahweh Who causes His word to stand in fulfillment. Nehemiah linked the fulfillment of prophecy with righteousness. Therefore, we may understand that Jesus meant that certain prophecies concerning John and certain prophecies concerning Jesus Himself would be fulfilled by John baptizing Jesus now.

3.2 Began His Ministry. Luke wrote His gospel in consecutive order (Luke 1:1-3). Therefore, Luke presented the ministry of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus.  John the Baptist would be called the prophet of the Most High, because he would go before the Lord to prepare His ways and to give knowledge to the people of salvation by forgiveness of sins, with the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:76-79). Immediately after the baptism of Jesus, Luke wrote that Jesus was thirty years of age when He began His public ministry (Luke 3:23). Likewise, Mark started with the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and presented the ministry of John the Baptist. Therefore, Mark provided a very clear connection between John the Baptist and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ began with John the Baptist preparing the way and the hearts of the people of Israel.

 

Section Four

Fulfillment of Prophecies concerning John the Baptist

4.1 Prophecies concerning John the Baptist. Several prophecies concerning John the Baptist were fulfilled by the baptism of Jesus.

4.2 Prophecy: The Gospel of the Kingdom. Soon after His baptism, Jesus read Isaiah the prophet in the synagogue at Nazareth. Jesus read that the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18, quoting Isaiah 61:1). The law and the prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the Gospel of the Kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone in it suffers violence (Luke 16:16). See Violence and the Kingdom of Heaven. John continued the Old Testament preaching about the law and the prophets, but John the Baptist and Jesus would inaugurate the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus began the public preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom immediately after His baptism. Both the Holy Spirit and God the Father publicly commended Jesus to the ministry the Father had prepared for Jesus and the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus to preach the Gospel to the poor. 

4.3 Prophecy:  Coming of Jesus. John the Baptist prophesied: “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals” (Matthew 3:11-12). John the Baptist did not prophecy about the birth of Jesus, but the arrival of Jesus for public ministry. John the Baptist identified Jesus as the One mightier than I. John said he was not fit to remove His sandals. Having said those words, Jesus arrived from Galilee and so fulfilled the prophecy.  The baptism of Jesus served as a public commendation of Jesus as the Son of God, Messiah of Israel, ready to fulfill His ministry with His way already prepared by John the Baptist who had completed his mission, and then recognized Jesus as the Son of God.

4.4 Prophecy: John Prepared the Way for Jesus. Mark began his Gospel with the words, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) and then quoted Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3; see also Malachi 3:1) prophesying about John the Baptist. He will prepare the way for Jesus. With Jesus arriving for baptism, the work of preparing the way for Jesus had been fulfilled, for Jesus was now present and ready to  begin the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Therefore, the prophecy of Isaiah had been fulfilled because the way had been prepared by John the Baptist.

4.5 Prophecy: Public Manifestation of Jesus as the Son of God.  John the Baptist said: “So that He may be manifested to Israel through this, I came baptizing in water.” 6John wrote ” ἵνα φανερωθῇ τῷ Ἰσραὴλ διὰ τοῦτο ἦλθον ἐγὼ ἐν ὕδατι βαπτίζων“). Therefore, at this point in time at the baptism of Jesus, Jesus becomes publicly manifested to Israel through the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist and the prophecy was fulfilled (John 1:31). Therefore, the entire baptismal ministry of John the Baptist was a fulfillment of the prophecy of preparing the way for Jesus, so that He would be manifested to Israel (Isaiah 40:3; 9:2).

4.6 Prophecy: Holy Spirit Descended and Remained on Jesus. John the Baptist said that he did not recognize Jesus, but the Father prophesied that John the Baptist would recognize Jesus by the Holy Spirit descending and remaining upon Jesus; this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit (John 1:33).  When the Holy Spirit descended from heaven as a dove and landed on and remained on Jesus, the prophecy to John the Baptist was fulfilled by Jesus at the baptism. When Jesus left the Jordan river, He was full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1). After being led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil, Jesus returned to Nazareth in the power of the Holy Spirit. He then went into the synagogue in Nazareth and fulfilled the Scripture that “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed me to preach the Gospel of the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the lord” (Luke 4:18-19; see Isaiah 61:1-2a). Therefore, the prophecy to John the Baptist and Isaiah the prophet were fulfilled at the baptism of Jesus, because the Holy Spirit came upon Him and remained upon Him, empowering Him for public ministry in the Holy Spirit.

4.7 Prophecy: Public Declaration of John the Baptist that Jesus Is Messiah. Jesus said that John the Baptist testified to the truth, that Jesus was the Messiah (John 5:33).

 

Section Five

Fulfillment of Prophecies concerning Jesus

5.1 Prophecies concerning JesusJesus fulfilled many prophecies. Some of those prophesies related directly to the baptism of Jesus, and He fulfilled all of them.

5.2 Prophecy: Gospel of the Kingdom. Like the prophecy concerning John the Baptist, Jesus also began preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom after His baptism. The law and the prophets were proclaimed until John the Baptist, but since that time the Gospel of the Kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone in it suffers violence (Luke 16:16). See Violence and the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus came to fulfill the law and prophets (Matthew 5:17). Jesus was the end of the law for righteousness for all who believe (Romans 10:4). Jesus began His public ministry proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people (Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:38 preaching in towns). 

5.3 Prophecy: Galilee Sees Great Light.  When John the Baptist was put in prison, Jesus withdrew into Galilee. He left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum (Matthew 4:12-13), fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah that Galilee of the Gentiles would see a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a great Light dawned (Matthew 4:17; Isaiah 9:1-2). From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17). Therefore, the baptism of Jesus marked the time when Jesus began His public ministry, preaching repentance and that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.

5.4 Prophecy: Public Walk Prepared for Him. Matthew, Luke and John all referenced the prophecy of Isaiah that John the Baptist would clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; he would make smooth in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23). The ministry of John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. With the arrival of Jesus for public ministry, John the Baptist’s ministry of preparation drew to a close, just as John the Baptist prophesied: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).

5.5 Prophecy: Public Manifestation of Jesus to Israel. After His baptism, Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and quoted Isaiah 61. He proclaimed that the Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” Jesus then said that today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).  

5.6 Prophecy: Public Proof of Descend and Remain. John the Baptist received a direct prophecy from God about identifying Jesus. John the Baptist then related the prophecy concerning Jesus: the One Who sent him to baptize said that He upon Whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit (John 1:33). John the Baptist then testified he himself had seen and testified that this is the Son of God (John 1:34). 

5.7 Prophecy: Public Commendation of Jesus.  At His baptism, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by the Holy Spirit descending as a dove and remaining upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16) and God the Father speaking from heaven proclaimed that Jesus was His Son (Matthew 3:17). John also testified that Jesus was the Son of God (John 5:33), the Long Expected One sent from God.

5.8 Prophecy: Higher Rank. John the Baptist prophesied that a Man would come after him Who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me (John 1:30). John the Baptist himself held a very high rank, because Jesus said that among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11; Luke 7:28). Therefore, when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus fulfilled John’s prophecy by coming to John for baptism.

 

Section Six

All Righteousness

6.1 All Righteousness. One goal of the baptism was to fulfill all righteousness. As the Levites said in the days of Nehemiah, Yahweh Elohim fulfills His promise, for righteous You are. Therefore, the phrase fulfill all righteousness includes fulfilling prophecies, as described above. It also describes the righteousness of John the Baptist and Jesus.

6.2 The Righteous One. Isaiah described Jesus as the Righteous One. As a result of the anguish of His soul, Yahweh will see it and be satisfied. By His knowledge, the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53:11). The baptism of Jesus also identified Him publicly as the Righteous One, who takes away sin. For His disciples, baptism identifies them as the ones declared righteous by God. Their faith is credited to them as righteousness (Romans 4:5). Their sins have been taken away by the Righteous One, so that they have become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). In the future, the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43).

6.3 The Way of Righteousness. John the Baptist came in the way of righteousness, but many of the religious leaders did not believe John the Baptist; but some tax collectors and prostitutes did believe Him (Matthew 21:32). At the baptism of Jesus, Jesus the Righteous One was baptized by John the Baptist who came in the way of righteousness. For the disciples of Jesus, baptism means they have become righteous by faith in Christ and follow the way of righteousness.

6.4 The Thinking of the Righteous.  John the Baptist also came to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and disobedient ones to the thinking of the righteous, so as to make ready the people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17). At the baptism of Jesus, He had this same thinking, so that He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-7). For the disciples of Jesus, baptism proclaims that they are the children who were once disobedient to God, but now have turned to the thinking of the righteous and have that same thinking of the Righteous One, to live in humility and sacrifice (Philippians 2:5).

6.5 The Law and Righteousness.  Jesus condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who walk according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:4).  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4). For the disciples of Jesus, baptism means that we publicly identify with Christ, and so Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for all who believe in Christ and walk in the Holy Spirit. 

6.6 The Ministry  of Righteousness. Just as the law produced a ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, the ministry of the Holy Spirit come with even more glory. If the ministry of condemnation has glory, how much more the ministry of righteousness? (2 Corinthians 3:7-9). At the baptism of Jesus, He began the ministry of righteousness through the power of the Holy Spirit filling Him for the ministry of righteousness.  Therefore, the disciples of Jesus proclaim Him with great boldness of speech and continue His ministry of righteousness in the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:12).  

 

Section Seven

Summary of Baptism

The Baptism of Jesus not only teaches us many things about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father, but the baptism of Jesus provides the model for the baptism of every believer.

Baptism Means Identification with Jesus. At the baptism of Jesus, He went down into the water in His old life of living in Nazareth, and then rising from the water to begin a new life of public ministry proclaiming the Gospel to the poor. For His disciples, baptism means identification with Christ in proclaiming the Gospel using their spiritual gifts in daily ministry. His disciples have been crucified with Christ, yet they live in newness of life, living by faith in the Son of God, who loves us.

Baptism Means Filling with the Holy Spirit. At the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and landed on Jesus and remained upon Him and filled Him for public ministry. For the disciples of Jesus, baptism symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit filling our lives for ministry.

Baptism Means a Public Statement of the Father’s Pleasure. At the baptism of Jesus, the Father declared that Jesus was His beloved Son, in Whom He was well-pleased. For the disciples of Jesus, baptism symbolizes the Father saying that He is well-pleased with the salvation of each believer, who become a child of God at the moment of salvation.

Baptism Means Fulfilling All Righteousness.  At the baptism of Jesus, Jesus left His home in Nazareth and began His public ministry. He fulfilled every promise pertaining to His baptism. For the disciples of Jesus, baptism symbolizes the call of every believer, declared righteous by God, for public ministry in the Name of Jesus.

Baptism Means Obedience to God’s Will. At the baptism of Jesus, He fulfilled all righteousness by being baptized by John at that particular time, because the time had come to begin His public ministry, manifesting Himself to Israel as, among other titles, the Son of God, the Prophet of God, the Apostle of God, the King of Israel, the Suffering Servant of God, the Prince of Peace, the Lord of All, the Savior of All, and the King of Israel; Jesus manifested Himself as the Son of God, because He did not act on His own initiative, but always obeyed His Father Who sent Him, doing the things He saw His Father doing, saying the things given to Him by His Father, and accomplishing the work His Father gave Him to do. For the disciples of Jesus, baptism means we obey the command of God to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and commit our wills to glorifying God by making disciples of all the nations.

Baptism Means Public Proclamation of New Life. At the  baptism of Jesus, He came from His childhood home in Nazareth and never lived there again. After the baptism, Jesus settled in Capernaum, but Jesus also said He had nowhere to lay His head. Jesus began preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God all over Israel, travelling from place to place. Jesus went down into the waters of baptism an adult from Nazareth, and came up from the waters of baptism heading off to all of Israel, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. For the disciples of Jesus, they go down into the waters of baptism having been saved from their old life and born again as a new born babe, with all things new, and come up from the waters of baptism to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.

Baptism Means Public Identification. At the baptism of Jesus, He identified Himself publicly as the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel. For the disciples of Jesus, baptism serves as a public identification with Jesus and a statement that the disciple has been born from above, and the disciple has become the child of God Who follows Jesus, a daily minister for Christ.  

Baptism Means Public Ministry. At the baptism of Jesus, He was thirty years of age and began His public ministry. For the disciples of Jesus,  baptism serves as a public statement that each new believer also begins public ministry, using the spiritual gift(s) to the glory of God for the common good of the body of Christ.

Baptism Means Public Proclamation of The Gospel. At the baptism of Jesus, He began His public ministry, centered upon the proclamation of the Gospel.  For the disciples of Jesus, they begin a public ministry of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

Baptism Means Public Identification with the Family of God. At the  baptism of Jesus, He publicly identified Himself with His brethren, and was not ashamed to call them brothers. For the disciples of Jesus, we publicly identify ourselves with the family of God, because we are the children of God.

Baptism Means the Fulfillment of All Righteousness. At the baptism of Jesus, He with John fulfilled all righteousness.  As the Levites said in the days of Nehemiah, Yahweh Elohim fulfills His promise, for righteous You are. Therefore, the phrase fulfill all righteousness includes fulfilling prophecies, as described above. It also describes the righteousness of John the Baptist and Jesus. For the disciples of Jesus, they also proclaim that through Jesus all righteousness has been fulfilled in them, and particularly obedience to His command to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (all of Whom participated in the baptism of Jesus and have a relationship with each disciple).

Baptism Means Identification with The Righteous One. At the baptism of Jesus, He was publicly identified as the Righteous One Who justified the many by taking away their sins. For the disciples of Jesus, baptism identifies them as the followers of the Righteous One who has taken away their sin.

Baptism Means Identification with the Righteousness of God. At the baptism of Jesus, He was publicly identified as the Righteous One, who became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. The righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Baptism Means Identification with The Way of Righteousness. At the baptism of Jesus, John the Baptist came in the way of righteousness; but many of the religious leaders did not believe John the Baptist; but some tax collectors and prostitutes did believe Jesus. Jesus, the Righteous One, was baptized by John the Baptist who came in the way of righteousness. For the disciples of Jesus, baptism means we have become righteous by faith in Christ and follow the way of righteousness.

Baptism Means Identification with The Thinking of the Righteous.  At the baptism of Jesus, John the Baptist had come to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and disobedient ones to the thinking of the righteous, so as to make ready the people prepared for the Lord Jesus. At the baptism of Jesus, He had this same thinking, so that He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For the disciples of Jesus, baptism is proclaiming publicly that they are the children who were once disobedient to God, but now have turned to the thinking of the righteous and have that same thinking of the Righteous One, to live in humility and sacrifice.

Baptism Means Identification with The Law and Righteousness. At the baptism of Jesus, Jesus came as the One who would condemn sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who walk according to the Holy Spirit, for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For the disciples of Jesus, baptism means that we publicly identify with Christ, and so Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for all who believe in Christ and walk in the Holy Spirit.

Baptism Never Removes Sins. Although Jesus commanded baptism for all His disciples, baptism is never essential for salvation (see Baptism Never Saves Anyone). Jesus never sinned, and His baptism never removed sin for anyone else.

Baptism Only Applies to Disciples. Only the disciples of Jesus have saving faith in Jesus. Therefore, infants and people who do not have saving faith are not candidates for baptism. In the Bible, baptism only applies to people who have been converted to salvation in Christ by grace through faith. It does not confer any special grace because all believers at the moment of salvation received every blessing in Christ in the heavenly places and on earth. Baptizing infants and unbelievers waters down the meaning and significance of baptism because only the disciples of Jesus with saving faith may be candidates for baptism.

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