Pastor’s Bible Reading Schedule: Numbers 29-31; Matthew 3
In this chapter we find yet another prophecy fulfilled. John the Baptist comes out of the wilderness to preach repentance from sin and faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Obviously we know that baptism cannot save anyone. The baptism of John the Baptist was not promoting baptismal regeneration, but rather an outward demonstration of an inward repentance. The baptism did not save them, the repentance from sin and faith in Christ saved them. When John faced the religious leaders of his day, he compelled them to bring “fruits, meet for repentance.” (vs. 8)
True repentance not only should but also will have corresponding genuine works, demonstrated in both attitudes and actions. A right relationship with God brings right relationships to our fellow man, at least as far as our part is concerned (Rom. 12:18). Those who claim to know Christ, who claims to be born again, will demonstrate a new life that directly corresponds to their salvation. When someone says they are sorry for some action, that action will cease or change because of repentance. To continue an attitude or action after saying we are sorry is contradictory to the definition of repentance. John confronted the religious leaders that wanted to convince their audience that they were children of God while never repenting of their sin. John the Baptist calls them snakes that were deceiving the people regarding true repentance and its necessity for salvation.
Jesus’ baptism picturing inward repentance did not make any sense to John or to us. It is not difficult to understand John’s concern in verse 14. John’s baptism was for confession of sin and repentance (3:2, 6, 11), but Jesus had no sins to confess. John’s baptism was for those who turned from their sin and thereby became fit for the kingdom the Messiah would set up. The question begs to be asked, “Why, then, would the sinless King Himself want to be baptized?” John acknowledged Jesus was indeed the Christ, “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!” Why should the One who takes away sin submit Himself to a ceremony that represents repentance of sin? Jesus answers this dilemma with, “…Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness…” (vs. 15) Jesus explains to John that it was important for both of their ministries, for us to “fulfill all righteousness.” It seems the reason Jesus submitted to baptism was to give an example of obedience to His followers. As the King of kings, Jesus recognized that He had no ultimate obligation to pay taxes to a human government; however, He submitted Himself to this duty of man. In His baptism He acknowledged that John’s baptism was valid and in His act of submission affirmed it as the will of God to which we are to follow. Jesus’ baptism represented His willing identification as the sinless Son of God with the sinful people He came to save. This was the initial step to His earthly ministry, the first step in the redemptive plan that He came to fulfill. He who had no sin humbly took His place among those who had no righteousness. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
• Lord, please help me to follow your example of humility and submission to God the Father. I want to be faithfully obedient to the will of God.
• Lord, thank you for being willing to come to this sin cursed earth and identify with fallen man in order to fulfill your Father’s plan of redemption. Thank you for paying the price for my sin.
• Lord, thank you for being my example to follow. Help me to accurately and appropriately help people to know and do your will. Thank you for those who recently have taken steps of obedience in their lives. You are so very good to us!