I have mentioned this before, but if you are new here: I am doing a study on the first book of the New Testament of the Bible. While reading it, I am attempting to study using the Inductive Study Method. Then at the end, I sum up what I have learned from the portion studied. Grab your cup of coffee, I’ve got mine, and let’s get to it.
In Matthew chapter 3 verse 13 through 17, the main theme is John baptizes Jesus. My biggest question was, “Why does Jesus need to be baptized? He is perfect, and baptism is for sinners, right?” So I kept reading, and searching.
In the first couple of verses (13-15), the focus is on the water baptism; in the second part (16-17), the focus is on the spiritual baptism. Jesus sees that John is baptizing in the river Jordan, which is one of those rivers that just seem to keep coming up in the Bible. It’s the main river of that area. It was noted in the Israelites crossing over to the Promised Land. A Syrian captain named Naaman was told to wash 7 times in it to be cleansed of the leprosy that he had. Elijah and Elisha walked across it on dry ground. Now here we are in the history of the river Jordan where Jesus is physically baptized in it.
Jesus asks John to baptize Him. John doesn’t understand why Jesus would come to him to be baptized, and he requests that Jesus baptizes him. But Jesus knew full well what He was doing. I believe He was signifying in this act that He was publicly showing that He is doing the Father’s will. Up until this point, He was performing the duties of the oldest son. He was working as a carpenter. He was taking care of His mother. There is no more talk of Joseph after Jesus is found in the temple when He was 12 years old. So the logical reason could be that Joseph had passed away sometime between that time and the wedding at Cana (John 2) where he was not mentioned with Mary. I think that when He was baptized, He was accepting His role, His fate, if you will. He was non verbally saying, “I am ready to do what needs to be done.” So He physically gets baptized.
Then in that second part, He is baptized in the Spirit. “He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him (vs 16).” It’s almost like the Father gives Him the blessing to go do His work. And Jesus says, “Yes, sir.” So the Father says, “I’m so proud of My Son.” That is sort of how I picture the scene. A proud Papa watching His Son do what He was meant to do. As a parent, I feel a sense of pride in my sons doing what they are supposed to do and what they are told to do. I have poured my everything into them, and when I see that some of it stuck, that they help someone up when they fell, or when they stand up against a bully, it just makes my heart swell with pride, and I look to my husband and say, “Attaboy.” Not that my experience compares to the experience of our heavenly Father. But putting into terms and experiences that I can relate to helps me to remember it and to have a sense of being there. This helps me to draw out meaning that I can then apply to my life.
Later, Nicodemus will question what it means to be born again. And Jesus explains to be born of the water and the spirit. This reminds of the baptism of Jesus. His acceptance of the Father’s will for His life. Both John and Jesus were sent of God for a purpose and had to fulfill what they were sent to do. So when Jesus says, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,” I believe He is in essence telling John, “It is time.” So then John baptizes Jesus, and immediately Jesus came up from the water. He didn’t linger under the water. He immediately came up. I think that it symbolizes to us not to linger in our mess. Repent and immediately be rid of it.
I began to listen to an audiobook called, “The Doctrine of Repentance” by Thomas Watson. Watson was an English, nonconformist, Puritan preacher and author. He lived in the 1600’s, but the simplicity and directness with which he wrote allows his work to be still applicable today. He teaches extensively about repentance and its essentiality to the Christian faith. Jesus Christ Himself said that if we do not repent, we will perish. I will definitely be drawing upon this information well when I write on the next chapter of Matthew. But for now, my take away from Matthew 3:13-17 is: There is a specific task and role I am to fulfill. And before I can fulfill it, I must accept it. I need to decide if I want to take on what is before me, or deny it altogether. And in making my decision, I need to make it expediently, and not linger in it. When it is time to make a decision, just make it. In following Christ, the decision I made was clear and concise. I was team Jesus all the way. But during this time of growth and development in my experience with Jesus, I have learned that the more I learn, the more I need to learn. Each day of experience opens more of my sight to what more I can experience of him. It’s like each day the passes that I am experiencing God and seeking more of Him, the focus of my lens begins to expand showing more in the edges of the scene. More characteristics are shown. God is revealing more of Himself to me as I search Him out. He is truly magnificent to say the least. But just like a circle that gets larger and larger, there is more and more information for me to process, to take in, and to experience.
This has been an eye-opening study for sure. In the next chapter, we will tackle: “Satan tempts Jesus,” “Jesus begins His Galilean ministry,” “Four fishermen called disciples,” and “Jesus heals a great multitude.” I hope you continue with me in this, and if you want, let me know what you learned from this portion of scripture. We learn more from each other than we do alone.
Gotta go fill up my cup…