Summary: Who is Jesus? His baptism gives us great insight into the Only Begotten Son of the Father.
Jesus Revealed at Baptism
Many different groups have had different ideas over the years about Baptism. There is a wide variety of methods and meanings for Baptism in different denominations. Some believe baptism saves you and is therefore absolutely essential from infancy on. Others believe baptism is a means of obtaining God’s grace. And still others see baptism as witness and an act of obedience resulting from a changed heart. Some baptize through full immersion and others simply sprinkle the head. Last week we looked at the Baptism of John. His was a baptism of repentance, of confession of sins, and of purification for God.
Our baptism is based upon the finished work of Christ on the cross. Because He has fulfilled all righteousness and because He has born the penalty of our sins within His body, we are forgiven and cleansed by faith. Water does not wash us clean, or save us.
But through baptism we identify ourselves as belonging to Christ, as forgiven and clean individuals, now consecrated unto Him and for His service. We identify with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection through the waters of baptism. We are dead to sin, and alive to God in Christ Jesus. We are new creations. We are born again.
To us, believer’s baptism by way of immersion when physically possible is the best representation of this new beginning in Christ.
Believing that baptism in some way saves a person has led some groups to extreme measures. Perhaps the strangest practice of all is the practice of the Mormon sect to be baptized in the place of the dead. Several years ago, a wealthy lady from the East Coast made several trips to Salt Lake City so that she could be baptized over and over again for those who were dead. This grew out of a belief that baptism saves you. She was baptized over 30,000 times for relatives, friends, and former world leaders like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Napoleon. One Mormon elder went so far as to say: “I believe that this lady, in the day of judgment, through being baptized for the dead has saved more souls that Jesus.”
It is important that we understand what baptism is and what it isn’t. Does baptism save us? Is it necessary? Are there reasons to be baptized?
This morning I won’t be answering all of these questions, but I do want to look at the remarkable event of Jesus being baptized by John. Though this is a very unique incident, and we cannot compare our baptism with the baptism of Jesus which was a very unique event, I do believe there are some very important lessons we can learn from this example.
Turn with me to Matthew 3:13-17
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?"
15 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. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."