As I prepared to baptize nine new believers this morning, I spent time contemplating the baptism of Jesus. We find that story in all four of the Gospels, but the passage I happen to be studying this week was:
Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” 15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him to be baptized. 16 After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. 17 And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!
This passage has a lot to say about the importance of baptism. But what many people miss is that it also has a lot to teach us about the importance of the Trinity. Take a moment to look at each verse and meditate on what they say.
Verse 13 - Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.• Jesus and John were cousins. John was a powerful preacher who called people to repentance.
• Repentance means turning from our way and towards God’s way of living. Repentance begins in the heart, as we realize the depth of our sinfulness and our need for a Savior. Once we repent, our outward actions begin to change.
• We also become more spiritual and often want to express our spirituality in public ways. One of those ways is baptism.
• Baptism was actually an important part of the spiritual life of many Jews. Before Christ came, baptism was used by various Jewish sects as part of their spiritual journey toward holiness. John the Baptist borrowed this ancient Jewish practice during the early days of the Christian era to help people outwardly demonstrate the inner repentance they had already had.
• Imagine how John felt when Jesus showed up to be baptized.
Verse 14 - But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?”• When Jesus came to be baptized, John tried to stop Jesus. The reason John tried to stop Jesus was because Jesus had no sin to repent from ( read 2 Corinthians 5:21, I Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5). John rightly realized that Jesus was more righteous than John himself.
Verse 15 - Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him to be baptized.
• Jesus was fully aware that He did not need to be baptized as a sign of His repentance from sin. But He also knew that baptism was the way that Christians were to declare their faith publicly. Therefore, Jesus wanted to set an example by being baptized Himself.
• If Jesus, who did not need to be baptized, was willing to take part in this spiritual experience, why would those of us who need our sins washed away refuse to be baptized? Like Jesus, we should be happy to be baptized.
Verse 16 - After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him.• This is a powerful moment in the history of the world. In verses 16-17 we see the entire Holy Trinity manifested at one time. God the Son was present in the form of Jesus. God the Spirit was present in the form of a dove. God the Father was present through speaking words of affirmation to Jesus.
• Though the Trinity can be a hard concept to understand, it is important for us to grasp it. The Doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that there is ONE GOD who manifests Himself in three different people. Though there is no perfect illustration that can help our limited human minds understand the complexities of how one God can appear as three different people, the best illustration is that of a man who is a father to his children, a husband to his wife and a manager in his business. In this illustration, there is just one man, but that man relates to different people in very different ways depending on the role he is in at any particular moment.
• In the Old Testament, God demonstrated Himself as a Father to teach us the rules of how to have healthy lives. In the Gospels, God demonstrated Himself as the Son, born of Mary, who walked among us so that we could relate to His life. In the current era, God demonstrates Himself as the Spirit, moving in our hearts, convicting us of sin, giving us His gifts and helping us live productive lives with meaning and purpose. Throughout the Bible there is just one God working in the world. That God gives us a clear set of rules to follow in our lives and then, when we break them, helps us understand forgiveness and grace, and then empowers us to live rightly.
Verse 17 - And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!•God the Father was pleased with the baptism of Jesus. God is also pleased when we are baptized. He takes delight in us when we publicly proclaim our faith in Him.
Have we delighted God through baptism yet our lives?