Jesus Baptism- Matthew 3:11-17

In this passage, Jesus goes to John the Baptist to be baptized by John (verse 13). In verse 14, John tries to deter Jesus, telling Him that “I need to be baptized by you”, to which Jesus replies “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (verse 15). Two questions arise in reference to this: Why did Jesus need to be baptized by John? and What does it mean that this is necessary to “fulfill all righteousness”? As for the first question, we find in verse 11 that John’s baptism was “with water for repentance” (verse 11). Now Jesus obviously has no need to repent, for He was without sin, so His being baptized by John in water must be for another reason. To find this reason we turn to the Greek word for baptism, baptizo. The word basically means “to dip”, but one of its most common usages was to refer to a process used by garment makers. What it describes is the process of dying a white or linen piece of cloth in order to make it a different color, say purple. The white garment was dipped into a vat of purple dye and “became” a purple cloth, and gained a new identity and was identified with what it was baptized into the cloth and the dye were “united”, they became one. So baptism can be seen to be not only about cleansing (with water from defilement) but also about identification and union. In this light, Jesus baptism here takes on a new meaning. He goes to John to be baptized not because He needs to repent of sin or be cleansed from any defilement, but by going to John to be baptized in water He identifies with us, He “becomes” one of us, “united” with us, fully human but without sin. In this way he enters into our predicament, He enters into a world filled with sin, as one of us, in order to deliver us from sin. We then find, in verse 15, that it was proper for this to take place “in order to fulfill all righteousness”. It was “right” for Him to be baptized by John to identify fully with us, and the reason for this is so that we also, through His baptism, could be identified fully with Him, united with Him so that our sin could be placed upon Him and His righteousness could be given to us. This is what he came to do, to live the life we could not live and die the death we deserve to die, our sin placed upon Him through His identification with us, and His righteousness given to us through our identification and union with Him. All this is further attested by Romans 6:3-5, where we find that “all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection”. We see here Paul describing for us the implications of “baptism”, we have been baptized into Christ, into His baptism with “the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). We have been identified with Him and united with Him, and in Jesus baptism by John He is identified with us, united with us in our humanity so that all righteousness could be fulfilled, that one day we could be united with him through His baptism, the righteousness we lack given to us through our identification and union with Him, and His baptism by John showing us His identification with us and the opportunity for our union with Him through faith. In this way righteousness will be fulfilled, His mission will be completed, in this way God would make “Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

No Comments Faith  //  Jesus Christ  //  Salvation  //  Salvation and Redemption

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