Summary: This message examines Jesus’ Baptism and what it means to us.
It had to be quite a sight, a man in a camel hair coat standing dripping wet in the middle of the Jordan River. More than that can you imagine the smell; dry camel hair does not smell the best, can you imagine the smell of wet camel hair? Besides dressing funny and smelling bad his behavior was quite strange. He was quite judgmental and what’s all this talk about a new kingdom that is coming? However, even more surprising are the crowds that are coming out to not only hear him but to be baptized by him. As you scan the crowd there are the poor, there are those who are looking for a shred of hope to grab on to, there are the religious leaders who have many questions about this guy and there are even some Roman soldiers in the crowd. Who is this guy named John? Could he be the Messiah? Then all of sudden out of the crowd steps a man by the name of Jesus, he is John’s cousin and is six months younger than Him. He wants John to baptize Him, needless to say that puts John in an awkward position because he knows who Jesus is. This is the Messiah, the Lamb of God that John proclaimed earlier. Jesus is clearly superior to John which makes this encounter quite interesting. Today I would like us to look at the significance of Jesus’ baptism so that we can get a better grasp of the reasons behind it. But more than that I want us to see exactly why baptism is important to us today.
I. What should we make of the fact that Jesus came to John to be baptized?
A. The question that we wrestle with is, “why did Jesus need to be baptized?”
1. John’s baptism was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.
2. If Jesus was truly sinless and had nothing to repent of, why was He baptized?
3. Scripture proclaims Jesus as being sinless. Consider the words of the Hebrew Writer.
4. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15—NIV)
5. We shouldn’t feel bad if we struggle with this question because John had the same question. He realized that Jesus was superior to him and his logic concluded that an inferior should not baptize his superior.
6. John makes his objections known because in His mind none of this is making any sense. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and John should be baptized by Him.
B. Jesus presents the reason that John needed to baptize Him, this needed to be done to fulfill all righteousness.
1. Aren’t you glad that Jesus made it all crystal clear? How could this act of baptism accomplish this?
2. There are those who believe that Jesus was simply providing us with an example to follow.
3. Could this be more than just a mere example? Especially since there is something unique about this event, it is mentioned by all four Gospel writers. That alone says that this is a pivotal event, so it must be extremely important.
4. This seems to mark the beginning point of Jesus’ ministry. Consider the unusual things that happen during this event.
a. The Heavens are opened which was a common sign of an impending divine revelation.
b. The physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove.
c. God’s voice thundering His approval of Jesus from Heaven.
5. When you think about it, Jesus being baptized for the sake of providing an example seems kind of pointless. It has to be much more than an example.
II. What was the meaning of Jesus’ baptism?
A. Jesus baptism marks the inauguration of the Kingdom of God.
1. Have ever considered the possibility that Jesus was baptized for the forgiveness of sins?
2. This is not unheard of in the Jewish world. In fact throughout Jewish history leaders repented for the sins of the people.
a. In Daniel 9, Daniel repents for the sins of His people which led to their exile.
b. Nehemiah fasted as a result of the sins of Jerusalem.
c. Ezra and Ezekiel both took responsibility for the sins of their fellow Jews.
3. This would make Jesus’ baptism one of repentance in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom. This makes perfect sense in light of His mission.
4. This would allow substitutionary events to mark both the beginning and ending of His ministry. The crucifixion would mark Jesus once again taking on the sins of the people.
5. Mark’s word choice in his Gospel seems to imply a connection between Jesus’ baptism and crucifixion.