Summary: A sermon on the significance of Jesus baptism for our redemption.
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (NIV)
I remember going to a Catholic wedding as a child. When everyone entered the pew, they knelt and crossed themselves. I had never seen anything like that. And then after the wedding, everyone started shaking hands with everyone else. That seemed strange to me. Just recently I remember going to a Methodist wedding and hearing them sing along to rock songs at the service like at a karaoke bar - it seemed strange to me. So also, it sounds strange to people when they hear that some Mormons wear a special kind of protective undergarment. It sounds strange to some people that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays. Different churches have different “rituals.” If you don’t understand why they do it - or if it is something that you aren’t used to - it will seem strange to you.
These different experiences made me start thinking . . . I wonder how visitors think we are? Do they think we’re strange for our liturgy? Do they think we’re strange because I wear a gown and we seem so formal? When they see us take the Lord’s Supper without any knowledge of it, what do they think? “What is the purpose of coming up and drinking wine from the same cup?” And when they see a baptism without any knowledge of baptism, what do you think goes through their mind? “What is the purpose of pouring water over a child’s head?” It takes explanation for people to understand.
John had similar questions today. Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized, and John didn’t understand why Jesus would do this. It didn’t make sense. Therefore, Jesus had to explain it to him. So we are going to answer that question today -
Why Did Jesus Get Baptized?
I. The purpose of a normal baptism
John was confused for a reason. It wasn’t that he had never seen a baptism before. John had performed probably hundreds of them by that time. No, John was confused because he knew all there was to know about baptism. First of all, he knew it was for sinners. Just prior to today’s text, it says that John the Baptist came preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!” When the people came out to the Jordan, they had to realize they were sinners and repent of their sins before he would baptize them. For instance, when some Pharisees and Sadducees came out to be baptized, John wouldn’t do it. Why not? They had become hardened in their evil ways and their evil religion. Instead of confessing their sins, their only purpose was to find some fault against John. So John told them to get lost.
Why did he want people to confess their sins? When the people confessed their sins, John would then baptize them in the Jordan River. Why did he baptize them? He knew what would happen as a result of that baptism. Peter explains this to us in Acts 2:38 as he tells the crowd, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Notice that there are two purposes to baptism. Peter says the first is - for the forgiveness of sins. When Rylee was born - I remember her being all full of blood and mucus. She needed to be wiped clean and given a bath. That’s the way we are all born spiritually. All of us are born steeped in sin at birth. Even though a little infant looks so innocent and pure, King David described their actual condition as He said in Psalm 51:5 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. So we are born for a deep need to be cleansed.
Somehow, in some way, God says that baptism is like taking a bath - only spiritually. When you take a shower or a bath, all of the dirt and grime that you have on you from a hard day’s work gets washed off of you. Peter said, that’s what baptism does. It actually cleanses you of all of your sinful impurities. In Romans 6:3 Paul asks, don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? What that means is that at your baptism, God takes all of your sins, and buries them with Christ. In exchange, He gives us something else. Galatians 3:27 says that all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. So God puts a whole new garment on you - the perfection of Christ - so that you look holy and righteous in His sight. Imagine it this way - God has a whole big bucket of forgiveness and perfection - like a bucket of paint. He’s got enough to cover all of the graffiti filled walls of the world plus a whole lot more. When you are baptized - it doesn’t matter how thick your wall is full of the graffiti of sin, God will cover it. At your baptism, God applies that forgiveness which Christ won to YOU. So that you now look different in His sight. You look holy. That’s why baptism is for sinners. The reason John wouldn’t baptize the impenitent is because they didn’t think they needed that holiness - they didn’t really want it.