The Baptism of Jesus the Messiah
Truth Taught-At Jesus’ baptism, He is marked, anointed and declared to be God’s Messiah and God’s Son
So far in Matthew’s Gospel we’ve been looking at the birth and infancy of Jesus and we’ve looked at the ministry of John the Baptist. Now, Jesus is an adult and His path and John’s path intersect.
John’s ministry is about to come to its pinnacle as he baptizes Jesus, the Messiah. After today’s text, we will see John’s ministry decrease and fade away as Jesus now bursts onto the scene. John’s task of getting the people ready for the Messiah ends as the Messiah appears.
John 3:30 (ESV)
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Beloved isn’t that the goal of our lives and ministry as well? We are so used to clamoring for attention and having everyone focus on us, now as Christians we should be focusing the attention of others not on us any longer but on the perfections and beauty of Christ our Lord. In our lives, may it be said that Jesus is increasing and I am decreasing.
Matthew 3:13–17 (ESV)
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.
We have here a rather strange interchange between Jesus and John the Baptist. Now, John has been preaching that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand; therefore, people everywhere must repent of their sin because in their current condition they are not ready for the Kingdom to appear.
The first thing we should note is our Lord’s humility. He was the superior. In fact, John had just told us that Jesus’ baptism with the Holy Spirit would be far superior to his water baptism. We also see that John quickly realizes who he is speaking to that this is God’s Messiah. With all this in mind we still see Jesus approaching John for baptism.
Why does Jesus come to John for a baptism of repentance when He had no sin for which He should repent and what about this event pleased God? And how did this baptism fulfill all righteousness?
The answer to these three questions is really the same. Jesus was baptized by John in order to identify with what John was preaching, namely, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand and Jesus was baptized to identify with all those who were currently following John. In humility and faithfulness Jesus submits to John’s baptism as a way to identify with John’s message and John’s people.
Jesus’ baptism was an affirmation of John’s ministry. By being baptized it was as if Jesus was saying, John I want you to baptize Me, because that will show that your message was true, your ministry was true, and it will link Me, the Messiah, with your ministry, which was to pronounce the coming of the Messiah, and it will link My ministry with your ministry as building upon it. So that is the first thing that His baptism does to fulfill all righteousness.
Very shortly, Jesus will take John’s message and make it His and He will take John’s disciples and make them His disciples. John truly was the forerunner of the Messiah.
16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Right after Jesus comes up out of the water there are three very significant events that follow…
By the way, this is one reason we believe baptism is by immersion and not sprinkling. It’s impossible to come up out of a sprinkling. At any rate we won’t get sidetracked here. There are three significant events…
behold, the heavens were opened to him
Here we see an event that has only happened a time or two in all of history. It happened at Ezekiel’s vision…
Ezekiel 1:1 (ESV)
1 In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
The pattern is that God opens the heavens and then reveals something very significant. In the case of Ezekiel, the heavens were opened and God spoke and Ezekiel saw a great vision.
Another example of this is at the stoning of Steven…
Acts 7:54–56 (ESV)
54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
We also have the account of Peter’s vision…
Acts 10:11 (ESV)
11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.
At the baptism of Jesus the heavens or heaven is opened and God is about to do something amazing. So, the opening of heaven is the prelude to the divine communication. What will God do and what will God say?
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;
As the Holy Spirit descends visibly and rests upon Jesus God tells all who were there that day that this is My Messiah I’m anointing with My Spirit to begin His mission.
The OT has allusions to this day…
Isaiah 11:2 (ESV)
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 42:1 (ESV)
42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
Isaiah 61:1–3 (ESV)
61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
Jesus will officially begin His ministry in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. Making this a visible sign God shows the world that He has placed His divine endorsement upon His Son, His King, Jesus Christ.
17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Here, we have first and foremost God’s assessment of His Son Jesus Christ.
Father’s identification of the Son. God tells us who the Lord Jesus is in this passage. He tells us from heaven, what heaven thinks about the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 17, you see the view of the heavenly Father. You see what the Father thinks of the Son. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” For two thousand years, for two millennia, for twenty centuries from the time of Abraham, we have been waiting to see the unveiling of the one who would be the deliverer of Israel. The one who would build the city that has foundations. And in Psalm 2, verse 7, and Isaiah chapter 42, we are told that when the one came who would build the city with foundations that the Father would say of Him, this is my Son, today I have begotten Thee. The heavens opened at the baptism of Jesus and the Father’s voice is heard from heaven, and He says, “this is My Son.” Two millennia of waiting were fulfilled. And the Father has said, this is Him, this is My Son, this is My estimate of who He is, and we must remember this as we work through this Gospel in the weeks to come, and we see the Lord Jesus despised and misunderstood and rejected and crucified and dead and buried. And when we see the world hating Him, or ignoring or thinking that He is crazy, we must remember that the Father does not see Him that way. He is the beloved Son, and every time we see the world despise Him, we ought to remember that the Father loves Him.
Regardless what the world says about Jesus we have here what God says about Jesus. There is something very unique or even a little strange here. God gives Jesus His full endorsement before Jesus’ ministry even begins. What this means is that in God’s sovereign plan to send Jesus to earth He knew that our Lord would be successful in accomplishing His mission even before He ever started it. Jesus is a sure thing and God knows it and has known it for all eternity.
Let me say this, if you are in Christ, if you have embraced the Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly Father delights in you, just like He delights in His Son. For you have become brothers and sisters in Christ if you are joined to Him. And the Father delights in you. It is one of the hardest things for us to take in as believers. But the Father delights in His children like that. This passage also reminds us that we can’t be apathetic about this Christ. You see, if the Father says, “This is My Son,” then there are only two options, you may either say, “No, I reject Him,” or you must embrace Him. You can’t say, “Well, that is good for you, you be religious and worship the Son, and I will get to God in some other way.” No. The word of the Father from Heaven reminds us that there is but one way. There is but one Son. There is only one that He has said, ah, this is my only, my unique Son. You hear Him. He is the only way to the Father. We must reject Him and perish or we must embrace Him and find all the treasures of adoption.
Have you embraced Him? Are you apathetic about Him? Are you holding Him at bay? Are you waiting for a more appropriate time? Now is the day of salvation. Embrace the one that God the Father has identified as His Son in whom He is well pleased.
Now, after Matthew has spent 3 Chapters making his case proving from multiple different perspectives that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah-King, the Son of God, we now are under divine obligation to agree with and affirm what the evidence has determined.
If you are here today and you still don’t believe let me ask you a question…what will it take for you to turn from your sin and embrace the Son of God? Today, is the day of salvation. Don’t wait is God calling you?
If you are a believer are you as pleased with God’s Son as you should be? Is He your beloved? Is He your treasure?
Let’s turn to God in prayer…
Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary
A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles
A Gospel of Matthew by France
Matthew by Craig Bloomberg
Matthew by Doriani
Matthew by Charles Price
Matthew by Leon Morris
Blue Letter Bible