Summary: In the fullness of time our Lord Jesus came to this earth, born of a woman, under the law.

The Baptism of Jesus

Matthew 3:13-17

In the fullness of time our Lord Jesus came to this earth, born of a woman, under the law. In the fullness of time our Lord Jesus appears in the wilderness where John was preaching and baptizing those who repented and turned from their evil deeds and ways. He is almost thirty years of age. It is time for Him to enter His prophetical office; and he chooses to do it, not at Jerusalem but where John was baptizing for Him those who waiting for the consolation of Israel.

John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus and it is believed he began his ministry about six months before Jesus came to him to be baptized. Jesus coming from Galilee to be baptized teaches us not to shrink from pain and toil, that we may have an opportunity of drawing nigh to God in obedience. We should be willing to go far, rather than come short of communion with God. Those who will find must seek.

Jesus coming to John to be baptized reveals the humility of Jesus. He who knew no sin submits to the baptism of repentance. When Jesus began to preach, He preached humility, preached it by his example, preached it to all, especially His disciples. Jesus’ first act in the beginning of His ministry was the humbling of Himself. This was an expression of respect done to John when Jesus came to be baptized by him.

Jesus’ humbling of Himself are so surprising, it appeared at first to be incredible to the strongest believers. It was so deep and mysterious, that even they who knew Him could not understand what He was doing. In John’s objection to the baptizing of Jesus we find the start of objections against the will of Jesus. John’s modesty sees the baptizing of Jesus as an honor too great for him to receive, and he expresses this to Jesus, just as his mother had done to Jesus’ mother (Luke 1:43).

John had now obtained a great name yet he is still humble. He thinks it necessary that he should be baptized by Jesus with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as of fire, for that was Jesus’ baptism. Though John was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb, yet he acknowledges he needed to be baptized with that baptism. Those who have been filled with the Spirit of God, while here, in this imperfect state, see that they have need of more, and need to apply themselves to Christ for more.

John needed to be baptized though he was the greatest that ever was born of woman, being born of a woman, he is polluted, as others of Adam’s seed are, and admits he had need of cleansing. The purest souls are most sensible of their own remaining impurity, and seek more earnestly for spiritual washing. He needs to be baptized by Jesus who can do that for us, which no one else can, and which must be done for us, or we are undone. The best and holiest of men need to be baptized by Jesus and the better they are, the more they see of that need.

John admitted he needed to be baptized by Jesus before those that had a great respect for John and were ready to embrace him as the Messiah. It is no disparagement to the greatest of men, to confess that they are undone without Christ and His grace. While John was dealing with others about their souls, he speaks of the need of his own soul. This is why he thought it was preposterous and absurd, that Jesus should be baptized by him. That the One who is separated from sinners, come to be baptized by a sinner and among sinners. How can this be? How do you explain it?

Jesus accepted John’s humility, but not his refusal. He will have the thing done though we do not understand it, nor can give a reason for it. Jesus didn’t deny that John needed Him to baptize him but He insisted John baptize Him. We know everything is right in its season. Christ is in a state of humiliation. He has emptied himself, and made of Himself of no reputation. He is not only in the flesh but is made in the likeness of sinful flesh and therefore now let him be baptized by John as if he needed to be washed, though perfectly pure and was made sin for us though He knew no sin. It is John’s baptism that is needed to fulfill Jesus’ purpose and not the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus will now be baptized with water; but His baptizing with the Holy Spirit is reserved for another day. John’s baptism now has its day and honor must be put upon it and they who take part in it must be encouraged. The baptism of Jesus by John is a sign of approval. John will slowly fade from the scene. Jesus’ ministry is about to begin.

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