You have who it takes – 15/01/2023
Matthew 3:13-17 The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?’
15 Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’
My Dad was not perfect. In my early and teen years he was mostly never around. He was always working.
As a result, Dad did not know anything much about me – how school life, sporting life, relationships with mates and girls were going.
So, in young adult and young family years our relationship was fairly distant. As a young man, I did not know what my Dad actually thought of me. I assumed, not much.
But later in life, when I had become a dad of four great kids and partner to a fantastic wife, and Dad was older and retired, he did enough. He managed to show me that he actually thought a lot of me. I know this not only because of what he did, but more importantly because of what he said. He spoke words of affirmation that backed up his effort to show me that he thought I was doing OK as a man, a husband, a parent and that he was proud of me. In other words, he said, “You’ve got what it takes”.
When I hear this account of Jesus being baptized by John down by the river, I go straight to those words that they heard God himself speak about his Son.
‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’
They are gold. They really say, “You’ve got what it takes, Son”.
Every person needs to receive these words from someone they respect in order to be healthy and whole. Without them, there is much pain, self-doubt and fear.
Every gospel writer tells of this big baptism moment. Most agree that the account is not so much about the actual baptism of Jesus, but more about those rarely heard words of God the Father about this baptized man, Jesus.
I suspect Jesus came away with encouragement and confidence from these words this day with John in the Jordan. He needed every ounce of his Father’s affirmation to fulfill what he was sent to fulfill. So do we.
Up to this point, Matthew has been showing that Jesus is the ‘real deal’.
- In that long list of family history (genealogy) (1:1-17)Jesus is very much identified as being part of that long, long story of Abraham’s promise that is continuing in him.
- Jesus is named, “God saves”, by Joseph, and so is divinely commissioned to be THE SIGN of God’s saving presence (1:18-25), Jesus’ name is his mission.
- As the prophets announced, Jesus was;
- rightly born of Mary (1:25-2:1),
- threatened by the murderous King Herod (2:1-23),
- homaged by the magi (2:1-12),
- neglected by the Jerusalem leaders (2:3-6),
- protected by Joseph (2:13-23),
- attested to by the scriptures (2:1-23),
- directly guided/protected by God (2:1-23),
- and publicly witnessed to by John (3:1-12).
Matthew is saying that Jesus is everything God has promised for ages past. We can trust what he is going to do from this moment in the Jordan.
And then those words really ‘seal the deal’ on this Jesus, who is the ‘Annointed One’, the ‘Messiah of the world’; The ‘Saviour’.
But why did Jesus, God’s only Son, submit to this ‘baptism of repentance’ of John, when he did not need to repent of any mistrust of his Father or wrong behaviour?
John asked the same question.
14 But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?’
But Jesus pulls rank and simply says,
“But why, Jesus?” Because;
“it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.’
Ah. So in submitting to this baptism, Jesus is saying ‘yes’ to being faithful to his calling to fulfill everything the prophets have said about what he has been sent to do, no matter the cost (which will be considerable).
So, this baptism is more about Jesus’ calling. His calling is spoken of by Isaiah hundreds of years prior;
‘Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
6 ‘I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
(Isaiah 42:1, 6-7)
Big calling! What a weight this must have been at the beginning of it all. Like a young woman or man being the number one draft pick for whom the team have paid a lot of money facing his/her first game, or the top seed in a grand-slam tennis tournament facing their first match, the calling is weighty. So much pressure!
What do you need when you are under this kind of pressure at work, in your relationships, your study, your family? You need someone important to you to tell you have their approval and support no matter what.
Even better when this respected person; the boss, the teacher, the lecturer or your spouse or parent or child says these affirming words.. and even publicly.
Like when the boss comes into the meeting and gives a word of praise and affirmation of how able you are, and how well you are doing your job, in front of everyone. Everyone hears the affirmation. It helps them trust you.
That’s the Father’s intention here. By these words of affirmation said publicly, the Son gains courage from this public affirmation of his calling and the people gain a reason to trust the Saviour.
This is especially clear the way Matthew tells it. He does not put it as other gospel writers put it;
‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’(Luke, Mark)
‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’
The Father is speaking more to the people. Those hearing are given good reason to trust the Son, and the Son himself is affirmed for the task ahead.
I find this so renewing and confidence giving for the challenges I face.
First, I marvel at the loving relationship the Father and Son share. I hear the heart of the Father for his Son, and by extension now, his heart for his adopted son – me.
Second, by this gift of baptism I have received, I am now alive in Jesus’ forgiveness won for me, and loved by the Father;
11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self, ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins…