Journey Through The Bible
Old Testament Reading: 2 Chronicles 25-27
New Testament Reading: Matthew 3
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. But John tried to stop him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John allowed him to be baptized (Matthew 3:13-15).
John the Baptist was a fiery preacher. With a bronzed face and unshorn locks of hair, he preached in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” (v1b-2). He stood waist-deep in the cobalt-colored Jordan, calling all people to the water. He went into all the vicinity of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Lk 3:3).
Baptism wasn’t a new practice. It was a required rite for any Gentile seeking to become a Jew. Baptism was for the moldy, second-class, unchosen people, not the clean, top-of-the-line class favorites—the Jews. Herein lies the rub. John refuses to delineate between Jew and Gentile. Every person needs to repent of their sins and be baptized.
Everyone, that is, except one. That’s why John was stunned when Jesus waded into the river, asking to be baptized. John’s reluctance is understandable. The Son of God should be the baptizer, not the baptizee. Why would Christ want to be baptized? Why would he need to be baptized?
Jesus did not need to be baptized because He was a repentant sinner. But yet, He needed to be baptized to fulfill the Father’s will. Jesus said His baptism was to fulfill all righteousness (v15).
By being baptized, Jesus identified Himself with publicans and sinners, the very people He came to save. This act of baptism was a necessary part of the righteousness He secured for sinners. He will ultimately bear their sins and impart to them His perfect righteousness. He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
Jesus’ baptism was the first event of His ministry and was a public affirmation of His messiahship by testimony directly from heaven. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (v16-17).
Jesus’ baptism pictured how He would fulfill all the righteous claims of God against man’s sin. His immersion in the waters of the Jordan symbolized His death at Calvary and burial in the tomb. His emergence from the water foreshadowed His resurrection. By death, burial, and resurrection, He would satisfy the demands of divine justice and provide a righteous basis by which sinners could be justified (Romans 6:3-10).