When next we see Jesus He is a full grown man at the Jordan River facing John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11-17). In verse 11 John has already told the crowd that though he baptized in water, One was coming whose sandals John was not worthy to untie and Who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. He actually calls Jesus (John 1:29) “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” But he is totally horrified when Jesus stands before him waiting to be baptized (Matthew 3: 14) and basically says, “I need to be baptized by You!”
I think it was a fitting reaction. After all, John had just recognized and proclaimed Jesus as the One who would take away the world’s sins, including John’s. Surely the lesser had no right to baptize the Greater!
And then here’s Jesus’ response. How characteristically humble it was! “It needs to be done,” He said, in order to “fulfill all righteousness.” So John, though a bit unnerved, I’m sure, baptizes Jesus and something awesome happens. The heaven’s open! “The Spirit of God, like a dove” alights on Jesus! And a heavenly voice speaks, saying “This is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight!”
What an affirmation from the Father! Sin Bearer, God’s loved Son, God’s delight! Again we see God taking the trouble to publically reveal who Jesus is. Why? So that people would know? Yes. Certainly. But more, too. Jesus, in utter humility, is following Jewish law that requires a priest be at least 30 years old and purified in a “mikvah” or ritual bath, as consecration before beginning his ministry. And Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchisedec (Hebrews 5: 5-6) who would present Himself as a living sacrifice, but we’ll get to that another time. It is interesting that after Jesus’ immersion into water, the Holy Spirit descends upon Him. The Holy Spirit is often symbolized by oil, and part of the consecration of a priest after the mikvah was to be anointed with oil.
This public emersion in water followed by the anointing of the Holy Spirit signals the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and was again a sign of obedience. Who is more pure or righteous than Jesus? He didn’t need a mikvah or baptism to purify Himself. But here He is willingly and humbly fulfilling the law. And His Heavenly Father was pleased and made no bones about it, thus assigning His seal of approval upon Jesus and His coming ministry.
How amazing Jesus is! He is so far above any of us, yet so incredibly humble and obedient. And that’s the secret of gaining God’s seal of approval upon us, too. First we need to recognize and accept Jesus as our sin bearer as well as the marvelous Son of God. Then be anointed by the Holy Spirit. And finally, to live humble and obedient lives.
It’s so simple, really, when you think about it.
Until next time,