Summary: In Jesus' baptism, we find him as Soverign, Servant, and Savior. As we accept his salvation, we discover God's same message to us: “You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Baptism by Fire
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Today’s story is all about Jesus’ baptism. I could tell you some funny baptism stories. As a Baptist minister, I’ve done lots of baptisms. It’s in our name, you know! I remember one morning I checked the baptistery, and the water was too hot! Now that was a new problem, because usually it was too cold. I couldn’t find the custodian, so I thought, “I’ll just let some of the water out and add some cold water; that should make it just right!” The only problem was, this baptistery was like one big bathtub, and the drain was right in the middle. I grabbed a pole the custodian used, and pried up the drain a little, and sure enough the water started to drain out. Then, I couldn’t get the drain back in with the pole. At this point, I began to panic a little, because if all the water drained out, we would have to fill up the whole thing again, and it would never get warm enough in time for the service. So I threw off my suit coat and tucked in my tie and hiked up my shirt sleeves and, in the best imitation of Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible,” I sprawled out across that baptistery, my body spanning it, my feet resting on one ledge and my hands on the other, and very carefully I reached down into the water with my right arm and got that drain closed. Somehow, I managed to get my body off the top of the baptistery without falling in, and we were able to refill it in time to baptize that day. All was well at Parkland First Baptist Church!
That’s just one story. There are many more. “Baptizo” is a Greek word that’s not fully translated in our English Bibles. To be “baptized” means to be immersed. John the Baptist was baptizing people in water for the remission of sins. In other words, he was encouraging people to get baptized to show they were seriously trying to make a change in their life, to stop sinning and to start following God.
Jesus never sinned, so why did he need to get baptized? It sure shocked John; that’s for sure. Jesus asked to be baptized for lots of reasons: He validated John the Baptist’s ministry. And God the Father validated Jesus’ ministry. Some people believe Jesus was filled with the Spirit to begin his earthly ministry when that dove came down. Jesus provided an example for us in baptism. And he also provided a picture of his own death and resurrection, as symbolically we are lowered in baptism into the watery depths and raised to walk in newness of life.
All four gospels carry today’s story, so we know it’s important. Looking at his baptism, I see three amazing attributes of Jesus, attributes that call us to a deeper relationship with him. First,
Jesus is my...
1. Sovereign – “You are my son...”
Today’s story is unique, because it includes a booming endorsement from heaven. God later would say almost the exact same thing at the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:35). Both times God would publicly identify Jesus as his son.
God basically is quoting from Psalm 2:7: “He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’” The New Testament writers later used this same psalm to illustrate Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 13:33), his superiority over angels (Hebrews 1:5), and his appointment as high priest (Hebrews 5:5).
I want to use the phrase to highlight Jesus’ divinity. 1 Timothy 6:15 tells us that God is King of kings and Lord of lords, so that means his son is also royalty. I know this because I watch all things BBC! And then later, scripture calls Jesus the same thing: Revelation 17:14 calls Jesus the King of kings and Lord of lords.
If King Jesus is Lord of my life, then I owe him the utmost allegiance. I owe him obedience. I owe him everything. If he really gave his life for me, then my life now belongs to him. Remember why the Magi came at Christmas? They were looking for the newborn king. Christian singer Toby McKeehan quips, “Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus.”
Jesus is not only king, though. In an amazing paradox, he is also a...
2. Servant – “in whom I am well pleased”
What king would ever be a servant? King Jesus, that’s who. The Heavenly Father says, “You are my Son ... in whom I am well pleased.” Here God is quoting from Isaiah 42:1, one of Isaiah’s four “Servant Songs” that point to a suffering servant Messiah who will come to the rescue of his people. Listen to Isaiah 42:1: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.” Matthew later would apply this verse specifically to Jesus (Matthew 12:15-18).