When Jesus appears at the River Jordan, John did not want to baptize him. The word is deter. When you look at this a little closer it doesn’t say that John tried to deter, but deters – that is John stopped Jesus. John didn’t do as he was told. John was saying – Hang on here Jesus, your plan doesn’t make any sense. John knew that his baptism was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus didn’t need to repent. Jesus was and is perfect. John was the one who needed to be baptized by Jesus.
Why, you might ask? Jesus doesn’t need to tell John why, but he does. It was to fulfill all righteousness. What does that mean? To fulfill all righteousness. Let me tell you what it doesn’t mean. Jesus is not saying that he needs more righteousness, because he wasn’t good enough before this. Jesus hadn’t sinned in thirty years. When Jesus talks about fulfilling all righteousness – he’s talking about us.
We often talk about Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our sins which is good and true, but let’s not forget that if Jesus had not lived perfectly as our substitute, he could not have died the perfect death as our sacrifice. When Jesus said that he needed to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness – he was doing so for us. John was right; Jesus didn’t need baptism; John did. Jesus was perfect. John was sinful. That’s why he wanted to be baptized by Jesus. John’s sinfulness was exactly why Jesus was baptized – it was part of taking John’s place.
Let me put it this way… I said it would be preposterous if Steph Curry came to me for advice on his jump shot. In this case, Steph Curry didn’t come for advice, but to sink the free throw that I never could. Steph took the shot not because he needed to prove his greatness, but because if he didn’t sink the shot for me, I would’ve failed.
Want to hear more? Watch this week’s message from Matthew 3: Jesus Appears at the River.
Tag(s): Baptism, Epiphany
Speaker(s): Fred Guldberg