Summary: Why did Jesus, the sinless Son of God have to be baptised, when baptism identifies the baptised with sin
Story: In her famous book and film, “The Hiding Place” Corrie ten Boom tells the story of a Dutch Christian family, her family, who had a heart for the Jewish people
Her grandfather Wilhelm started a weekly prayer group in 1844 in the city of Haarlem, near Amsterdam for the salvation of the Jews.
And this weekly prayer meeting continued uninterrupted until 1944 - when the ten Boon family were sent to a concentration camp - for helping Jews to flee from the Nazi persecution in Holland
Corrie tells a curious story about her father Caspar ten Boon.
When the Jews were forced to wear the “Star of David,” Casper lined up for one. He wore it because he wanted to identify himself with the people for whom he and his family had been praying for all those years.
He was prepared to be so completely identified with the Jews that he was willing to wear a sign of shame and suffer persecution for the sake of the people he loved.
He didn’t HAVE to wear the Star but chose to.
And in that story we find a clue in this as to why Jesus felt the need to be baptised?
He didn’t HAVE to get baptised as a sign of repentance and turning from sin – because he was sinless
He didn’t HAVE to be baptised as a sign that he was now leaving his past behind and following God – because his life was already totally in tune with His Father’s
But like Caspar ten Boon, he was baptised to identify with a fallen people – a people that he loved.
So what are the key elements that happened at Jesus’ baptism
1. Holy Spirit descending as a dove
The first element was that as Jesus was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.
It was perhaps strange to the first century Christians who heard Luke’s Gospel because the symbol of the dove stood for Israel – and it was the Jewish establishment that crucified Christ and was now oppressing the Church
But it isn’t that strange because elsewhere in the NT, we read of Israel and Jerusalem in particular repreenting the Christians who are God’s people – the heirs of Abraham
Paul makes the point quite poignantly when he says in Romans 2:
28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
2. You are my Son
The second element was the Father’s own words: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."
In a Jewish Court of Law, a fact could only be established by two witnesses.
And at Jesus baptism we see two witnesses – God the Father – who speaks and God the Holy Spirit who descends on Christ.
Jesus was someone special – and it was at Jesus’ baptism that God the Father chose to reveal that.
In other words at the time that God the Son was being obedient to his Father’s will identifying with a lost people in baptism that the Father spoke
And it is interesting that once Jesus is baptised by John, his ministry begins.
Baptism is the key that God has chosen to release us into our ministry
3. We have a calling
Like Jesus we all have a ministry.
The problem for many of us is trying to work out what God has called us to do.
And I think the key to finding our God’s will in our lives comes from PRAYER
But note that in all that was going on around Him at his baptism Jesus was praying.
Indeed you will find Jesus praying all over the Gospels
For example, early in the morning Mark records Jesus getting up and going to a mountain to spend time in prayer (Mk 21:35 et seq)
Or when he chose the 12 Disciples – he spent time in prayer (Lk 6:12 et seq) – and I don’t think Jesus made a mistake in choosing Judas Iscariot – for that too was in the plan of God
And of course most famously in the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk 22: 39 et seq) – just before His Crucifixion. In fact the prayer was so intense that he sweated drops of blood.
God the Father chose the time of Jesus baptism to reveal who Jesus is – and in baptism still God reveals who we are in Christ.
For those who are committed to follow him as his disciples show themselves to be sons and daughters of God as John puts it (Jn 1:12)