“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.”
John the Baptist came as Christ’s chosen herald, the one who would call people to prepare their hearts to receive their promised Messiah. So significant is John and his ministry that Jesus declared him greater than all the prophets. In fact, in God’s economy, John was more than a prophet (Matthew 11:9). John’s coming was prophesied by the great Old Testament prophets, Isaiah (40:3) and Malachi (3:1). His message to the people was to repent, that is, to change their thinking and attitude toward God. Coming to his baptism involved heartfelt confession with the intention of forsaking one’s sins. Those who were baptized were declaring before God, angels, and men that their sins were behind them and that they were ready to enter the Lord’s service. Today’s verse passage reminds us that Jesus fulfilled every righteous requirement of God. This included submitting to John’s baptism even though He had no personal sins to repent of. He did so to give us a flawless example of obedience that we are to follow. As Christ identified with God’s man on the earth for that hour, we too are to identify with God’s Man on the earth for this hour. From His baptism through His earthly ministry, His death, resurrection, and ascension, even into eternity, the Lord Jesus Christ just is—and ever will be—God’s Man for the hour. Salvation is found nowhere else (Acts 4:12); eternal life depends entirely on our identification with Him (John 5:12). Baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27), believers are both accepted (Ephesians 1:6) and complete (Colossians 2:10). The water baptism ordinance itself may stem from the Old Testament ritual washing described in Numbers 19:20-22. Here, only a ritually clean person can wash the unclean in water for his purifying. We note that during this washing ritual, the clean person becomes temporarily unclean. Moses wrote, “And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even” (Numbers 19:21). Seen through the lens of New Testament revelation, we see in the person who became temporarily unclean even as he washed others, a type of Christ Who “became sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21) even as He washed away our own personal sin and unrighteousness (1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7-9; Revelation 1:5). Though we are not worthy of the least of His mercies (Genesis 32:10), He continues to shower us with grace upon grace. Praise be to God Who has shown such favor to His fallen image-bearers. Hallelujah and Maranatha!
God bless you,