New Testament Journey Day 6 – Read Matthew Chapter 3 vs. 13-17 “The Baptism of Jesus”
Yesterday we talked about John the Baptist. He was preaching repentance and baptism for the remission of sins and was gaining quite the following. He was preparing the way for Jesus. The religious leaders of that day behaved as though their own religious rules were just as important as God’s rules for living. They were often hypocritical and their efforts often tried to force others to live up to standards they themselves could not live up to. While they were committed to obeying God’s commands and were admired by the common people for appearing religious and reverent, they become so obsessed with obeying their legal interpretations in every detail that they completely ignored God’s message of mercy and grace. They were more concerned with appearing good rather than obeying God and relied on logic instead of faith. And then came Jesus….
John had been explaining that Jesus’ baptism would be much greater than his, when suddenly, Jesus came to him and asked to be baptized! John said, “Whoa, wait, I need to be baptized by YOU!” But Jesus insisted that John was to indeed baptize him to carry out the will of the Father. Hmmm… why did Jesus ask to be baptized? He had never sinned so it wasn’t for repentance as John had been preaching. He was there to accomplish the mission God had him on. (1) he was confessing sin of behalf of the nation, as Nehemiah, Ezra, Moses and Daniel had done. (2) He was showing support for what John was doing. (3) He was inaugurating his public ministry. (4) He was identifying with those who were truly repentant for their sins , not with the critical religious leaders who were just standing back watching.
Jesus, the perfect man, didn’t need baptism for sin, but he accepted baptism in obedient service to the Father, and God showed his approval. Simple Obedience. Friends, that is the key in our walk as well. We don’t have to do huge, great and mighty Tweetable things. We simply need to be obedient to God. When he says “move” we move. Whether that be reaching out and saying your sorry first even if you know you were right. It may mean gathering women inside your home to start a bible study because God has laid that on your heart. Or it may be to move to another state or another country. God will use us all in different ways because he has given us different talents and abilities – but we are all to be obedient for one common goal – to further the Kingdom. To bring others to the knowledge of the love and freedom found in Christ Jesus.
For a quick moment, put yourself in Johns’ shoes. You have this ministry – it’s growing – people are taking notice – you’re getting quite the following. Feeling pretty good about it right about the time Jesus shows up. You knew that the purpose of your work was to prepare the people for Jesus. But then he shows up and it tests your integrity… are you going to turn your followers over to him and move from the position of leader to follower? John passed the test by publicly baptizing Jesus!
I believe this is the biggest threat for those called to the ministry and why we see so many fall from the pulpit. They start out wanting to lead others to Christ and they have been given a gift for that purpose. The church pews start to fill – people start “following” them on FB and social media by the thousands – all of a sudden the followers, without even realizing it, are following a man instead of God. And the man, ego intact, is allowing it. Ministry heads and Christians alike need to pray often, search my heart Lord and reveal within me anything that does not please you so I can pull it out. When people see us they need to see Jesus. John would soon go on to say “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” Can we, like John, put our egos and profitable work aside in order to point others to Jesus? Are we willing to lose some of our status so everyone will benefit?
And this is my favorite part of this story… the revelation of the Trinity! God is three persons – God the Father speaks: God the Son is baptized; God the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus. God is one, yet in there persons as the same time. This is one of God’s incomprehensible mysteries – but so beautifully precious at the same time. This event foreshadowed what Peter said in Acts 2:38 when the crowds eyes were opened and they realized they had killed Jesus and they cried out “What should we do?!?!” Peter replied.. “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We have the same Holy Spirit living on the inside of us that Jesus had! That right there should make you want to jump and shout a little! The Holy Spirit leads us and guides us and it’s available to ANY ONE – no matter how much you have sinned – if you repent you will be forgiven! How about you? The waters are stirring… have you given your life to Christ? If not, I encourage you to do so. We are going to need Him more than ever in the days ahead.