Summary: Looking at Jesus’ Baptism and this as a part of God’s will for his life.
Luke 3:21- 22 – The Meaning of Jesus’ Baptism
I’ve got a quandary that I’ve been faced with all week as I’ve been preparing this message. Have you ever been faced with a quandary from God’s word – you’ve read something and you just don’t understand why it happened that way? Well I’ve been in that situation this week as I have looked at Jesus’ baptism.
You see my quandary comes because I read that Jesus traveled down from Nazareth to the Jordon to be baptized by John. If you’ve been with us in the last couple of weeks, you would know that John was calling out for people to come and repent and confess their sins. The Baptism of John was adopted from a purification ritual that was used for Gentiles who wanted to convert to the Jewish faith. It was to purify them from all the grime and dirt from their previous Gentile lives. John however, was using this for Jews also. He was saying – you are just as evil as those pagan Gentiles – you have wandered away from God so you need to be purified. Come and be baptized and be purified and may this action show that you are repenting – turning around and coming back to God; and then – only then - can you confess your sins so that you can be forgiven.
My quandary is that if this baptism was all about repenting and purification so that the people could go and ask God to forgive them for their sins … Why…Why … Why … did a perfect man like Jesus want to be Baptised?
He didn’t need purifying – he was already clean spiritually in God’s sight. He didn’t need to repent or come back to God. He didn’t need forgiving – He was sinless. So what use did Jesus have for Baptism? Do you see my quandary here?
As I have grappled with this topic this week, I have made some fascinating discoveries which I want to share with you today. I believe there are 3 reasons why Jesus was baptized and they can be summed up in these 3 words … He was baptized to 1) Identify 2) Exemplify and 3) Be Annointed. See if you can remember these by the end of the service. They are the first three vowels – a e i - in reverse order. Identify, Exemplify and be Annointed
1. To Identify …
The first reason Jesus was baptized was to identify with mankind. We read in Matthew’s account of the Baptism this … Matt 3:13-17 Jesus came down to be baptized, but John protested saying – “You don’t need to be baptized with this water. It’s I that need to be Baptised with your baptism of the Spirit and Fire.” But Jesus said, “Let it be so now; It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
John recognized that Jesus didn’t need to repent or be forgiven, but Jesus says it is right for me to be baptized. Why? Because he needed to identify with those people he was to save. It is an amazing thing that the God who created the world, chose to come and identify with his creation in their position of need. He could have come up with a different plan which allowed him to remain in heaven, but no, God’s plan involved Jesus coming down to identify with us in all our weaknesses.
Heb 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, a Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.
He hurt, he had emotions, he had pain, he was tempted just like any other person and so in coming and standing in the Jordan He was standing in solidarity with the rest of mankind. Why? Because he wanted to identify with us as sinner even though he was without sin. Through his life on earth takes on our sinful condition and our predicament and becomes our representative before God. Notice what event occurs directly after Christ’s baptism – the temptation in the wilderness. Isn’t it significant that when Christ empties himself of all his rights and privileges as God and steps into the ring as our representative, that he is faced with the full ugliness of our fallen condition in temptation.
Not only does Jesus here want to associate with our sin and weakness, but he also wants to associate himself with those who came to John in repentance and confession. He identifies himself with those who would seek to live a life of obedience to God. He identifies himself with God’s true Israel. And in so doing, he reinforces the importance of these actions of repentance and confession which he later advocates so strongly.