October 14, 2011
The Baptism of Jesus
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Why should you be baptized? The simple answer is that the Lord Jesus Christ commanded believers to be baptized (Matthew 28:19). I meet many people who claim to be Christians, but have never been baptized. Quakers and some in the Salvation Army reject baptism for believers. Other people say they have never gotten around to being baptized. Baptism in the New Testament means that you are immersed in water, so that the water covers you and then you arise from the water (compare the analogy of baptism in Romans 6:1-7; see also Colossians 2:12). The New Testament contains words for sprinkled (“ῥεραντισμένοι”) (Hebrews 10:22), washing (“λελουσμένοι”) (Hebrews 10:22), and pour (“ὑπερεκχυννόμενον”) (Luke 6:38). God could have used those words to describe baptism, but instead Mark used the word “baptized” (“ἐβαπτίσθη”) (Mark 1:9). Several passages indicate that baptism means immersion. First, John the Baptist baptized near Salim, because much water was there (John 3:23). Apparently John needed enough water to immerse people, not just pour water upon them. Second, Philip went down into the water with the Ethiopian Eunuch to baptize him (Acts 8:38). If pouring water on the head of the eunuch would have been enough, then surely the eunuch would have had water in a pouch nearby, even as he travelled on a desert road. Third, coming up out of the water indicates the baptism occurred in the water (Acts 8:39; Matthew 3:16). People got into the water to be baptized. Traditions from the early centuries of the church picture other means of baptism. We should always be careful to follow the Bible, and do what Jesus commanded in the Bible (Matthew 28:19), and not rely upon traditions outside the Bible. Remember, as always, baptism is not required for salvation and it does not confer any special grace or blessing upon you. The New Testament never speaks about sacraments that confer some grace upon you, but rather it indicates we observe “commands” of God. Baptism is a public and visible declaration of your faith and an identification with Christ. Salvation only comes by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Today, we shall look at the baptism of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Came for Baptism. In the life of Jesus Christ in the flesh, nothing happened by accident. We see that same pattern of deliberate activity here at the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9). Jesus had a purpose in being baptized. While everyone else came to John the Baptist confessing their sins, Jesus had never sinned and had nothing to confess (Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21). John the Baptist did not immediately recognize Jesus (John 1:29-34). Jesus received baptism to set an example for all of His followers. In Matthew 3:15, we read that Jesus told John the Baptist that “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” I notice that Jesus used the word “us,” referring to John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. Obviously, the baptism by John the Baptist would link the two forever and validate and confirm the ministry of John the Baptist. It would also show that righteousness, now in the person of Jesus Christ, had arrived and the time of righteousness would be fulfilled in Christ, who would proclaim the gift of righteousness by faith alone to all who received Christ as Savior. Now, Jesus has arrived and He Himself will finally and fully satisfy everyone who hungers for righteousness (Matthew 5:6). In Christ, people will no longer and mistakenly look to Law for righteousness (Romans 10:4; Philippians 3:9), because true righteousness only comes by faith in the heart of the person who believes that Jesus Christ died for his or her sins and was raised from the dead for our salvation (Romans 10:9-10). Jesus deliberately came to John the Baptist for baptism, and each believer should be baptized by immersion in water. Infants do not have faith in Christ, so infant baptism achieves nothing for the small child who has no faith and no conception of the significance of baptism. Baptism remains forever only for believers who have saving faith in Christ.
The Spirit Like a Dove. In Mark 1:10, we read about the Holy Spirit descending from heaven and coming upon Jesus as He came out of the waters of baptism. I often use this story to illustrate the Trinity of God. Jesus, God the Son, was coming out of the Jordan River. God the Holy Spirit was descending from heaven to Jesus, and God the Father spoke about God the Son. We see three divine Persons, acting in perfect harmony as one God. In this case, the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Father always existed together as one being and one God from eternity past. When Jesus came up from the water of baptism, the Holy Spirit descended as a testimony to everyone of His presence in the life of Jesus, and also signaled that Jesus was about to begin His ministry of power, proclamation, and blessing for all men. When the Holy Spirit descended and remained upon Jesus, John the Baptist knew for sure that Jesus was the Christ (John 1:29-34).
My Beloved Son. Some human sons have gone their entire lives without hearing positive words like these from their human fathers. Perhaps your father never spoke about you as “beloved” or said he was “well-pleased” with you. Perhaps you have never told your children those same words. God the Father told the entire world, for all generations, that He was “well-pleased” with His beloved son, Jesus Christ. The Father makes three clear declarations here. First, by describing Jesus as His son, He proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God. As a separate and independent witness, the Father now offers His testimony that His only Son, Jesus Christ, was now present and living among men. Second, by call Jesus “beloved,” we gain insight into the wonderful and close relationship the Son of God enjoyed with God the Father. Love characterizes their relationship. When we stand by faith in Jesus Christ, the Father loves us just like the Father loves Jesus (John 14:20-23). Third, the Father declared He was “well-pleased” with Jesus. This term “well-pleased” (“εὐδόκησα”) means to take pleasure, to delight in, to approve. Everything Jesus ever did pleased His Father in heaven. In fact, Isaiah the prophet had proclaimed that Jesus would fulfill the role of the beloved Servant of Yahweh, in whom God would be well pleased (Matthew 12:17-21; Isaiah 42:1-3). As we live in Jesus today, by faith in Him, our heavenly Father proclaims His love for us, and looks with joy upon us just like He looks at Jesus. What blessings we have in Christ every day of our lives.
So we learn more about the baptism of Jesus.
● Jesus came for baptism so that John the Baptist and Jesus could fulfill all righteousness. Jesus never sinned, so He had no sins to confess. He received baptism in water to fulfill the will of God.
● At the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus and remained upon Him.
● At the baptism of Jesus, God the Father declared Jesus to be His beloved Son (the Son of God title formally declared to everyone) and also declared He was “well-pleased” with Jesus.
Application for Today
As I live today, I want to remember the great blessing Jesus has bestowed upon me. I live by faith in Jesus Christ, and the Father calls me His beloved. If I meet people who call themselves believers, but have never been baptized after they have received Christ as Savior, then I will encourage them to read the Scriptures concerning their need for baptism. I will also proclaim with my life the great Savior and His love not only for me, but for everyone. The Father sent His Son to die for everyone, because He loves everyone. Will you share the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit today?