Summary: The second sermon in a series on Mark. This message focuses upon the reasons for Christ’s baptism and the Triune nature of it. It stresses the unique nature of Jesus to His Father, and shows how we too may have the Father’s pleasure.
Over the years, although I have kept no count, I dare say I have baptised dozens of people, people of all ages and with all kinds of backgrounds in rivers, lakes and sea, as well as swimming pools and baptismal tanks. Most baptisms I have completely forgotten the details of, but a few stick out.
Irene – because she was pregnant with Rachel and had to be baptised from a sitting position. (The only baby I ever baptised!)
Gareth – Being baptised late at night in the Irish Sea
The Baptism at the Boyne
The rushed baptism – 10 in 10 minutes (2 at a time)
This evening we come to the baptism of Jesus. Never was there a baptism like this baptism. In some ways it was no different from any other. Certainly the mode was the same. Notice, “And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John IN Jordan.” And then, “And straightway coming UP OUT OF the water…” So it was clearly a baptism by immersion. Jesus was in the water and out of the water. He was neither sprinkled nor poured upon. Bible baptism is always by immersion. In that regard this baptism is no different from any other. And like believer’s baptism should be, it was an adult baptism, Jesus being, according to Luke’s record, about 30 years of age. And yet it is unique, a one off.
For a start, though John administered it, it was not a baptism of repentance, because Jesus had nothing to repent of and no sins to be forgiven from. It was not a baptism looking forward to the coming of Christ, as John’s baptism was, neither was it a baptism looking back at the work of Christ as Christian baptism is. It was uniquely His because it marked the starting point of earthly His ministry.
It was no different from other baptisms in that many people witnessed it. But it was strangely different from other baptisms in that it was attended by the sight of the Spirit’s descent and the sound of the Heavenly Father’s voice. Every baptism is significant. Every baptism paints a picture, signals a truth, but in a way peculiar from all others Jesus’ baptism presents us with three clear signals.
I. There Was A Physical Signal.
A. Baptism is a physical act that represents a spiritual truth.
1. In the case of believers baptism that act portrays the death, burial and resurrection of Christ; it also presents onlookers with a testimony of the candidates to death to self, burial of the old way and adoption of a new life in Christ.
B. In the case of John’s baptism we see him as the forerunner, declaring the way of the Lord.
1. But how is John, or indeed his follower to know whom the Messiah is and precisely when He has arrived.
2. Mark tells us that, “there went out unto [John] all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.”
3. So gathered along that riverbank, day after day, people are coming to be baptised.
4. Ever strata of society are there. There are, of course, the common people, but also soldiers and tax collectors (publicans) and undoubtedly the religious leaders of Israel were also there. John uses similar language to Jesus when addressing these Pharisees, preaching, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Luke 3:7-8).
5. Into that morass of humanity we read, “Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee.”
6. This is His moment of entry. This is the point at which His ministry and work begins. And John, looking up sees this serene figure walking through the crowds gathered there, and pointing to Him, he cries, (in what is one of the most radical and profound statements in all the Word of God), “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
C. Something in John knows who He is, and He knows why He has come. He has come to be baptised.
1. Now, the question is often asked why did Jesus need to be baptised?
2. After all, He knew no sin. He had no need of repentance. He was not a convert of any kind.
3. But remember baptism is a sign, not a sacrament. By that I mean there is no saving work in baptism, by being baptised Jesus was not indicating a need for salvation, but signaling something else altogether.