WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 3
Sometimes when we are reading in the Bible, we miss the timing of the Scripture. For example, some 30 years has passed between Matthew 2 and Matthew 3. We left Jesus as a child in chapter 2 and meet him as an adult in chapter 3.
But there is another timing thing at work here. When we get to Matthew 3, it had been 400 years since the nation of Israel had heard the voice of a prophet. Except for his written word, God went silent for four centuries. That silence was broken with John the Baptizer (Baptist) arrived on the scene. Not only is he the first “Old Testament” prophet that was heard from in 400 years, he is also the last “Old Testament” prophet.
His message for the masses was a call to repent. Repent basically means to change but it has the notion of a complete, 180 degree change. Most folks tend to push back on repentance. So, it is interesting that such a strong message of repentance was received so well by so many as we see in verse 5. I’m not sure our culture would be as receptive.
But John’s message to the religious leaders of the day was really straightforward. Actually, it was kind of in their face. John basically said they were like a wad of snakes that were more interested in proving their ancestry than they were living a life of repentance.
One of the interesting things about Old Testament prophet types is once they get started, they tend to keep on going. John the Baptizer just keeps going. He begins to talk about the coming Messiah. He speaks of Jesus’ unparalleled power and ultimate worth. He speaks of the Holy Spirit’s work. And he warns us that Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, the real from the imposter.
Then Jesus shows up with the purpose of being baptized by John. That created a little conversation between John and Jesus. John understood that Jesus had nothing to repent of; therefore, He had no reason to participate in a “baptism of repentance”. In fact, John thought it would be better if Jesus baptized him. But Jesus insisted and was baptized. The question is why did Jesus submit Himself to be baptized.
One reason may be that Jesus needed to demonstrate obedience to God given authority. John was sent by God to baptize. Jesus submitted to that as an undeniable example for us to submit to any and all God given authority.
Another reason is Jesus came into the world to identify with men and to identify with men is to identify with sin. So, Jesus’ baptism was a willing identification of the sinless Son of God with the sinful people He came to save.
A third reason is His baptism was the first step in His redemptive plan. He who had no sin (Jesus) took His place among those who had no righteousness (us). In this act, the Savior of the world took His place among the sinners of the world. And since baptism is a picture of death and resurrection, Jesus’ baptism pointed not only to His death and resurrection but also to the necessity of our spiritual death and resurrection.
The chapter ends with an undeniable picture of the Trinity. Jesus, the Son, comes out of the water. The Holy Spirit, like a dove, descends on Jesus. And God the Father speaks from heaven about Jesus. What a moment that must have been!