As you might have noticed by now, we aren’t looking at every single verse in the book of Matthew. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, this isn’t a verse-by-verse commentary. There are plenty of those out there, and they can do a much better job than I can of explaining every little detail of the book. Second, I’m planning on doing Mark and Luke next year, and I want to avoid repeating myself. As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, Matthew, Mark, and Luke have a lot of common material between them. That’s why they’re called the synoptic gospels (meaning “same view”). Because of this, I’ll try to focus on unique material from Matthew, along with some other stuff to fill out the three months. After Matthew we’ll spend the rest of the year examining the Gospel of John.
Today’s passage chronicles Jesus’ baptism, and I’ll just make a couple of quick observations. First, let’s ask a simple question: Why did Jesus get baptized? People usually got baptized to symbolize and inaugurate a new lifestyle of following God. It especially signified repentance: a turning away from the old life to the new one. Obviously Jesus had no sins to repent from, so why did he do this? Of course, if we're scratching our heads concerning the reasoning behind this, we're in good company, since John the Baptist apparently confessed some confusion on this himself when Jesus approached him.
The most common one offered is that he’s providing an example for us to follow. Others emphasize the fact that he’s the head of the church and the new humanity. Both of these are entirely plausible, but there’s another explanation, and Jesus actually provided it: “to fulfill all righteousness.” Or in other words, “It’s the right thing to do.” It looks like this is what the Father told Jesus to do, and so he was doing it. That'd make sense, considering the Father’s declaration right afterwards. Whatever the Father told his Son to do, that settled the matter.
By the way, you have the entire Trinity present here: Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit anointing him (literally making him the Messiah, or “Anointed One”), and the Father verbally giving his official “stamp of approval.” All of them were present at the creation of the world, they were all involved in his conception, and they all make an appearance at the inauguration of his ministry and his first public appearance.
So what does this mean to me? Well, if you haven’t been baptized, I would ask “Why not?” Also we can consider Jesus’ example of obedience to the Father. Beyond that, though, this passage is very comforting to us as believers. Why? Because the Father publicly declared that he was “well pleased” with his Son. Paul said that Jesus is our “righteousness, holiness and redemption.” Christ is my righteousness, my holiness, and I claim no other. My righteousness--my holiness--is the Lord Jesus, who perfectly pleased and obeyed the Father all during his earthly life. Aren’t you glad?
Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, my holiness, my redemption, and I claim no other. You perfectly obeyed the Father, and I need to be more like you. Please.
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