Summary: Why did Jesus need to be baptized and why is that important to us?
Grace Community Church
Pastor Bradford Reaves
Watch this Message: https://youtu.be/kvOMpzSODa4
There is a premise in physics called “The Fine-Tuned Universe.” In this premise, it is asserted that there are characteristics of the universe that are virtually unchangeable, and if they were to be changed, the entire universe would be radically different. If, for example, the strong nuclear force were 2% stronger than it is, diprotons would be stable; according to physicist Paul Davies, hydrogen would fuse into them instead of deuterium and helium. This would drastically alter the physics of stars, and make life on earth impossible to exist.
Or take bubbles, for a more “down to earth” example. One of the things I love doing with Noah is blowing bubbles as he chases them. All bubbles are essentially round. Have you ever seen a square bubble or a flat bubble? How about a triangle bubble? When I blow bubbles with Noah every bubble is a sphere. Essentially it is because of something known as surface tension. You see, water has a physical property called surface tension. It wants to stay together and form an equal surface all around. You can’t change that property of water, otherwise, you change the very nature of water.
I want to talk with you about some theological surface tension this morning. That is the divine nature of Christ. For just as there are imperative characteristics in the nature of the universe, so there are irrevocable characteristics of God. Jesus was both fully God and fully man. If you take that nature of Christ and alter His Divine nature in any manner, the entire gospel changes. This is important for you to understand because there were teachers who attempted to lead the early church astray with these things and there are teachers today who are doing the same. It is not enough for me to say, ‘this is how it’s supposed to be,’ and you believe me. You need to be able to see this in Scripture and have a general understanding of why.
We’ve spent the last several weeks examining the ministry of John the Baptist. John is the forerunner of Jesus. His whole purpose is the preparation of the world for Jesus’ arrival. He did that through emerging out of the wilderness (not the religious, social, or political systems) with a message of repentance and baptism. A direct call for people to reject the world and return to God.
Now we come to the only point in Luke’s gospel when John the Baptist and The Lord Jesus are together. This is a key turning point in Luke’s gospel. From here, Jesus will face his temptation in the wilderness before emerging into the spotlight of public ministry. This passage is also one of the most Trinitarian texts in the gospels. As the Father is speaking, the Holy Spirit is descending, and the son is being baptized all at the same time. There is a heresy being taught, known as modalism and it’s gaining popularity today. If you do not have a Trinity, you have the wrong God. It is a heresy that pollutes all the rest of theology. You cannot have Modalism in this event because you have the Son being baptized, the Spirit descending, and the Father speaking simultaneously. So let’s ‘dive in’ (if you pardon the pun) to Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism.
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily forms, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.” 23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, (Luke 3:21–23a ESV)
1. Jesus’ Baptism Identifies Himself With Your Baptism
The first thing Luke does is connect the baptism of all the people who came down to the river with John to be baptized. Luke says, “When all the people were baptized...” This is the moment when Jesus’ public ministry begins; not a moment earlier. There were multitudes of people coming down to the river for baptism. In fact, Matthew tells us in Matthew 3:5 that all of Jerusalem was coming down. This was a bit of hyperbole here, but the point is that there was a mass of people hungry for change and expectancy of the coming messiah because of John’s ministry. And so many people were coming to John to be baptized as John preached a message of baptism and repentance.
This is the point, after living 30 years in obscurity that Jesus emerges into public ministry. So here at the height of John's ministry, people are coming, being baptized. Jesus comes. He looks like everybody else. There's no halo. There's no emanating Shekinah glory. There's no special messianic robe that He wears. He is like everybody else. He comes down and He gets in line with the crowd and John doesn't recognize Him until the Holy Spirit reveals it to John.