The Word Manifest (part 2): In His Baptism
Matthew 3:13–17 - Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. . . . 3:16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 3:17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
John’s Baptism - John was to go “in the spirit and power of Elijah” who divided the water of the Jordan (2Kgs. 2:8ff). John “prepared the way” for Jesus quite literally. John was “preaching a baptism of repentance” at the Jordan river (Mk. 1:4). Literally, John was in the wilderness beyond the borders of the Land where they “went out to him” (Mk. 1:5). He called the people to follow his “path” outside of Israel and to “turn” (repent) and cross the Jordan to enter the Land in renewal. John’s baptism for Israel was a sign of passing or crossing into renewed Israel to prepare for Messiah. Deuteronomy looks to a time when they “cross the Jordan” being led by Joshua (Dt. 4:21). The rest of the NT draws upon various threads of this crossing into Christ, through death and into resurrection life on the other side (Rom. 6:3-4, Col. 2:11-12).
[Colin Brown: “John was organizing a symbolic exodus from Jerusalem and Judea as a preliminary to recrossing the Jordan as a penitent, consecrated Israel in order to reclaim the land in a quasireenactment of the return from the Babylonian exile. . . . the purity and quantity of the water were of less significance than the historic, symbolic significance of the Jordan itself as the boundary and point of entry.” “It was an acted sign of their repentance and their desire to return to the holy land as a consecrated people.”]
Jesus’s Baptism - Thus, John's baptism of Jesus involved this renewal of Israel through the Jordan (as before with Israel, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, even Naman) in order to “manifest” (Jn 1:31) the Anointed One, “Christ.” Anointing restores fallen Man (‘adam) back into the presence of the Lord (Ps. 2:2). Priests were appointed through a ritual washing, anointing and vesting (clothing) (Ex. 28:41, Num. 3:3, etc.). Hebrews teaches that Christ was thus appointed “by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5:10). Further through this He “appoints a Son, made perfect forever” (Heb. 7:28). This happened at Jesus’s baptism (Luke 3:21, 4:18). Therefore Jesus “having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth” the Spirit on us (Acts 2:33).
Our Baptism - With this rich background in mind, through our baptisms we are cleansed, we “cross”, and we are clothed. Thus we have a new status as adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Thus, we are vested with the Spirit, able once again to enter into Garden of God to have communion with the Father. What was pictured in the high priest’s ordination is now true of the “royal priesthood” in Christ. Our new identity is conferred in baptism, even as it was for Israel in the first crossing of the river (1Cor. 10:1-4). We are “all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27).
APPLICATIONS FROM MY CHILDREN
1) Because we are cleansed, “crossed”/delivered” and clothed, we should not Fear Failure in the challenges of our lives. We are completely successful before the mightiest Judge by the grace of the Lord. What lesser judge, boss, teacher, or disapproving person should be allowed to stand larger the the Almighty God and Judge of All?
2) Because we are cleansed, “crossed”/delivered” and clothed, we should not Despair. Despair is just unbelief in disguise. It is raising our feelings above the Truths that God has spoken about those who are His cleansed, “crossed”/delivered” and clothed people.
3) Because we are cleansed, “crossed”/delivered” and clothed, we should be assured of our salvation. We should take God at His word. He has said through our baptism, “you are mine” and “I, the Lord, am yours.” Can you believe this word from God?