Summary: A look at the day John Baptized Jesus
The Baptism of Jesus
It’s just confusing. We all know the story of John the Baptist, and we know the story of Jesus and we even know the point where the two stories intercept. And that’s where it gets confusing.
There are two things we know that seem to muddy the water, so to speak. The first is that John was preaching a baptism of Repentance. In Mark’s Gospel we read Mark 1:4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God to receive forgiveness for their sins.
And he is faithful to that message, not content with lip service, he actually called on people to change their ways. In Luke’s account we read that the crowd hearing John’s message wanted to know what repentance looked like in real life, we pick up the story in Luke 3:10-14 The crowds asked, “What should we do?” John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?” He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.” “What should we do?” asked some soldiers. John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”
And we have no problem with that, some people did. His message finally resulted in his being killed by King Herod after he challenged the king about his marriage to his younger brother’s ex-wife.
And while John was a little different and just a tad eccentric his message was clear. Repent, commit to changing your behaviour and get baptized. Simple.
The confusion arises when Jesus arrives at the edge of the Jordon River asking John to baptize him. Because our understanding of Christ’s character was that he was without sin, that is that he had nothing to repent of, no behaviour that had to be changed. And that isn’t just my opinion, the scriptures return to that theme over and over again. And it forms the foundation of our theology of salvation. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. No sin, no need for repentance, no repentance not need for baptism. That’s where it gets confusing.
So let’s jump in and see where the story takes us.
Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.
The First Thing we discover is that Jesus’ Baptism Was Intentional The baptism of Jesus didn’t just kind of happen, Jesus wasn’t just walking along one day and saw John baptizing people and thought, “Hey that’s kind of cool, I should do that.”
We are told that Jesus travelled from Galilee to the Jordan river to be baptized. Let’s pull up one of our handy dandy maps. Couple of points of reference. Here is the Sea of Galilee and here here is the Dead Sea.
And here is where Jesus was, and here is where John was and where Jesus went. That isn’t like Jesus crossed the road to be baptized, it was at least a full day’s journey, and possibly longer to get from point A Galilee to Point B the Jordan river.
This is the first mention that we have of Jesus since he was 12, you’ll remember that story from the book of Luke when Jesus and his family had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and Jesus got separated from his parents and got lost. Actually he knew exactly where he was, in the temple, and that’s where they found him. Now we discover that he is 30 years old and he steps back into the narrative. And what may or may not have happened in those 18 years will remain speculation and the arena of fiction.
After Luke’s account of the Jesus’ baptism he adds a little aside when he writes Luke 3:23 Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry. And maybe that’s just Luke, after all he told us that Jesus was 12 when his parents lost him at the temple, he seems like a bit of a numbers guy. Or maybe there is more to it.
In 1965 it was Jack Weinberg who coined the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Of course Weinberg turned 76 in April so he might have changed his mind. But 2000 years ago a man’s opinion wasn’t worth much before he was thirty. Joseph was thirty when he began his service in Pharaoh’s court, David was thirty when he became King and the Levites had to be thirty before they could serve in the temple.