Summary: Why is it that Jesus, God in the flesh, felt it necessary to do the whole baptism thing? What great lengths Jesus went to to be our example.
Try to imagine with me for a minute the scene as John the Baptist is in the Jordan River. John has devoted his life to paving a way for Jesus as was prophesied over him by his father Zechariah. People living during his time would have regarded him as a bit of a nut with his camel hair one piece and his diet of locusts and honey. He was not shy and openly attacked the Pharisees and Sadducees, but his great passion was to tell people about repentance and the coming of one who was greater than him, then one day, unannounced he came. John is in the middle of preaching and baptising people and Jesus walks into the river, why? Well Jesus had very good reason to do this and we’re going to speak about them as we look forward to those stepping into the water this morning.
1) To give us a way to identify with Him
Jesus was such a remarkable man. Here is God dwelling among us and yet He still does things for us that only we really need to do. Jesus did not need to repent of any sin, Jesus was not coming off of a wonderful salvation experience, he was holy and righteous, spotless lamb of God, what is He doing asking John to do this? John’s response was true, he wasn’t even worthy to be his slave, but Jesus was doing something very important in the grand scheme of things. Jesus gives us a tangible way to identify ourselves with him.
As Christians we are on a path to be like Jesus, which is difficult, but very rewarding. What Jesus did in the Jordan River that day was give us something that we can do to be like Him. He gave us a symbol, which we must do publically, that represents the dying of the old sinful man and the resurrection of the new man/woman. He gave us something to identify with, I have died to my sin and now I am set free and washed clean of all my unrighteousness, something He accomplished on the cross and something every believer must do, just like Jesus.
2) To initiate a path of obedience
Jesus does something else crucial to future events; He starts down a road of obedience, which would see him die for our sins and rise again triumphantly, having defeated sin and death. This was the beginning of the end for Jesus and He knew exactly what it would cost Him, pain and suffering and ultimately his life. This is the where Jesus is publicly proclaimed the Son of God and following His temptation He sets out on 3 years of ministry that would change the world for all of time. Jesus publically announces who He is and begins the path to the cross.
For all believers we must look on the obedience and commitment of Jesus to this cause as inspirational and life consuming. Once you have experienced the love of God you are confronted with a choice to reject God or to live for God, there is no middle ground. Living for Him means giving your life to Him and Jesus shows us how to announce that publically to the world, through baptism. It gives us an opportunity to declare that we will walk the path of obedience too, just like Jesus.
3) To publicise His purpose
It was time to take the message of salvation and love to the world. The covenant of grace, redemption, and new life needed to be proclaimed and that is exactly what Jesus was going to do, both in word and action. Jesus makes public His purpose and enters into 3 years of loving, preaching and teaching. Everyone knew what He was here to do and he devoted himself fully to it whether it was in someone’s home, by a well, or in front of massive crowds. Everyone knew that He had come to seek and save the lost and all of this was backed up by the tangible power of God.
Christians too have been given a purpose and baptism is the time to declare that, not only have you accepted Jesus and been forgiven, but you have taken up Jesus’ charge in Matthew 28, to go into the entire world and make disciples. Jesus was relentless in seeing God’s will done and so must we. In baptism we make our purpose public: to give the rest of our days to seeing His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, just like Jesus.
Baptism is not a supernatural event in the life of the believer; it is a declaration of someone who was lost being found. It is the testimony of a life that was damned now being redeemed. It is the dedication of a life living in the service of our glorious King. What you are about to witness is real people having experienced real change. That is not reserved for special people, it has been made available to everyone and if you would like to experience what these people have this morning then I encourage you to invite Jesus to be king of your life, repent of your sins and embrace your God given purpose! Jesus made a way and we can all follow in His footsteps.