“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.” Matthew 3:13
Did you ever stop to think about the absolute absurdity of this scenario? Jesus- God- coming to John to be baptized? Why was John baptizing people? “I baptize you with water for repentance,” are his very own words. It was a symbol of repentance. So stop and think about that. What did Jesus, who is and was God, have to repent about? Scripture tells us He was without sin. So why in the world would Jesus come to John to be baptized for repentance?
This really baffled John too. He wanted to stop Jesus. “I need to be baptized by You, and you come to me?” John knew there was a difference between the baptism he was conducting and the baptism that Jesus would perform. He had already told the people, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me [Jesus] is mightier than I…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” He knew that Jesus would be the one to judge even him, so how could he baptize his own creator and judge? How ludicrous!
But here is Jesus’ answer. “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” And John consented. You know, I never thought about it before right now, Lord, but when You said that it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness, who was the “us” You are talking about? Is that just about You and John. Does that mean that the two of you need to do what’s right before God and others? Or was that us there spoken for my benefit and the benefit of every follower of You? When I read those words, should I read them as though You submitted to every act of righteousness because that’s what’s fitting for me to do too? Were You talking to all of us who would listen? Were You talking to all of us who watch?
So the One who needed repentance the least, walked through the symbolism of repentance before those who would follow Him. And I remember those words again, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” So the One who is the Authority over all, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, submitted to both human and spiritual authority. You submitted to God and You submitted before man to do that which glorified God before man. The Sinless One valued our need to submit in repentance before God and man by going through baptism for our sake. You put Your stamp of approval on the the words John was speaking and the reality of the need for a repentant heart and life.
Sure, You command us to be baptized. And You set the example for us here. But that’s not all this is about. It’s not just about believers submitting to baptism. It’s about You showing the truth of John’s words from God. Don’t you think this is strategically planned here? I mean, John is lighting into the Pharisees and Sadducees who were coming out to his baptism. Why were they coming out? Were they there to be baptized in repentance or were they just there to watch and critique him?
He certainly didn’t seem to think they were there to repent. He warns them about their lives and how their lives ought to show the repentance they proclaim. It seems they were trusting in their ancestors and traditions instead of in God. But their idea of good fruit and John’s idea of good fruit were not the same. And it’s even prophetic how John says, “God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”
“Children for Abraham.” “Children of faith.” “Children who live in and by and according to faith.” That’s all about what You were showing us here, Jesus, when You submitted to baptism. It’s all about submitting to the will of God. It’s all about knowing His word in such a way that I know what pleases Your heart, what delights You, and choose to delight in that. It’s all about wanting Your righteousness as much as You so it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.
Is that how I feel and respond? Would I act in such a way that might “mark me” as a sinner before others? Would I care more about what others think or what I deserve than I would about delighting in You and obeying You? Because, as I look at it, You are the Rock and I am a stone from that Rock. And as the Rock rolls, so ought I to roll. Do I?
I think of John that day, speaking to all gathered around, the “sinners” and the “teachers.” I think of You, Jesus. And I think of that baptism and those stones that You are able to raise up which brings me to Peter’s thoughts. ” So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” Repent. Repent about how we treat God. I mean, it’s not just about how I treat others. Do I deliberately act against You? Do I lie about my response to You or my feelings for You by saying one thing and doing another? Am I a hypocrite with my life? Do I envy what others have in You because I don’t? Do I act like I believe You, but slander You with my life?
But Jesus, You knew how good God was. And because Peter knew, because he finally tasted it too, he tells us we don’t have to be that way toward You any more. We can repent, following Your example; following You. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.’ So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:1-10)
Jesus was sent to walk out the righteousness of God in and by His life. He sends me to walk out the righteousness of God in and by my life in Him. Is that how I walk? What does my life look like?