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Summary: How does Matthew 3 relate to Father’s day? You might be surprised.

Matthew 3

Happy Father’s day!

How many fathers are here today? Matthew 3 has a good Father’s day message in it.

John scolded the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees when they came to where he was baptizing. He said (vs. 9), “Do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. “

Then at the end of the chapter, God the Father speaks to Jesus right after Jesus is baptized saying (vs. 17), “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Before we get to the Father’s Day lesson, let’s look at just a little background for this passage so we can understand what is going on.

First, Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism, which is the longest of the gospel accounts, is possibly written as an answer to early questions about why Jesus was baptized. Mark 1:3 tells us that John came preaching a baptism of repentance FOR the forgiveness of sins. People from all over Israel came to be baptized by John, confessing their sins. They were seeking God’s forgiveness. John’s baptism offered cleansing from sin for the repentant souls who were dipped in the Jordan River.

Think of it: John’s baptism involved repentance and confession of sins and upon these a person was baptized for the forgiveness of sins. His baptism was to prepare people for the coming Messiah. John himself was looking for the Messiah and preaching about his coming. What John did not expect, was that the Messiah would also come to BE baptized by him. But here comes Jesus to John, and somehow John realizes that Jesus is the one. Matthew is the only gospel to reveal that John knows even before Jesus’ baptism that Jesus is the Messiah.

How did he know? Did Zachariah and Elizabeth tell John about Jesus’ birth? Luke tells us that John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb as soon as Mary’s voice was heard by her. Did God just make John aware of who Jesus is? Luke’s gospel indicates this.

Then there is John’s gospel (not John the Baptist). John the brother James and the son of Zebedee, tells us that John the Baptist bore witness to Jesus. John the Baptist said he would not have known who Jesus was except that he saw the Holy Spirit descend upon him. (See John 1:31-34).

This seems to be in conflict with Matthew. Matthew tells us that when Jesus came to John to be baptized that John tried to deter him saying, “I need to be baptized by you and do you come to me?” In Matthew, John seems to clearly know things about Jesus that make him react this way. Luke agrees with Matthew clearly on this point. Matthew 3 shows us the responses of John the Baptist to the Jewish leaders and his response to Jesus. Notice that John’s response to Jesus is the opposite of how John speaks with the Pharisees and Sadducees. Of them, John demands fruits of repentance and calls them a brood of vipers! He attacks their pride in being sons of Abraham and compares them to rocks. On the other hand, when Jesus comes to John a totally different reaction occurs.

John doesn’t see himself as worthy to baptize Jesus. It appears here that John sees the big picture of who Jesus is – here is God’s Son, the Lamb of God, perfect and pure, the one able to take away the sins of the world. So, John begs the question, “Why are you here asking to be baptized by me? My baptism is for forgiveness of sin! I need to be baptized by you, not the other way around! Why do you come to me? You don’t need this. You don’t need my ministry, why do you come to me? By the time Matthew wrote this gospel, the early Christians were being challenged by some with this very question. Why was Jesus baptized by John if he needed no forgiveness of sins? Mark, Luke and John do not answer this question, only Matthew. Why would a sinless Savior need to be baptized for forgiveness of sins? Did not the fact that he came to John and was baptized by John prove that he too was a sinner if John’s baptism was FOR forgiveness of sins? Oh, the theological quandary!!! Thank-you, Lord for Matthew’s account.

The answer comes from the lips of Jesus himself: (vs. 15) …it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.

“To fulfill all righteousness,” Christians have thought a lot about Jesus’ answer here over the past 2000 years. You see Jesus’ baptism is both an example for us and also something none of us could ever do. Like the fact that Jesus is fully both God and man. These two seem to be mutually exclusive, but they are biblically essential. Jesus’ baptism is both our example and yet it is something unique that no one can imitate, thus it is paradoxical as well. Jesus accepted a sinner’s baptism and died a sinner’s death though he committed no sin. Jesus was baptized in obedience to God’s will, thus he fulfilled all righteousness. On the other hand, Jesus was baptized in obedience to God’s will so that our baptism would allow us to be filled with his righteousness. Similarly, Jesus died on the cross in obedience to God’s will, thus he fulfilled all righteousness for us with his obedient life and then paid for our sins in his obedience unto death. Jesus even refers to his death as a “baptism he must undergo.” When we are baptized into Christ we are baptized into the death of Christ (Romans 6) and it is there that we receive his righteousness.

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