Baptised by John

A sermon excerpt

Posted on September 14, 2015 with the Father according to the Godhead, the Self-same co-essential with us according to his Manhood; like us in all things, apart from sin; before the ages begotten of the Father, but in the last days, born of Mary the Virgin, for our salvation.

The Chalcedonian Definition, 451AD

Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Truly God and Truly Man. This Same Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. So Lets look a little deeper and enjoy it.

Baptised by John

Jesus was baptised by John. That puts john the baptist in quite an esteemed position. At the start of every Gospel, which should be all about Jesus, there’s a significant section devoted to John. He is very popular, very charismatic and some people even think maybe HE is the messiah [Luke 3:15]. The famous non-christian historian Josephus… who mentioned Jesus in his accounts: actually wrote more about John the Baptist. To Josephus, John seemed like a more prominent person in History. And to start off Jesus’s own public ministry, he seeks him out, travels from Galilee to the Jordan, to get baptised by him. This shows us a lot about John, but also Jesus.

A follower of John

Most obviously, it shows that Jesus wants to sign up to the message and manifesto of John the Baptist. He has heard what this celebrity is preaching, and he has come to sign on the dotted line and say a big ‘YES’. It’s an awkward thing to say almost: That Jesus essentially came to follow John. But there it is. There was something about John’s message that Jesus thought ‘yes… i want to be associated with that’.So what was it, that attracted jesus. You see a bit of John’s preaching in Mark’s gospel but John’s message is recorded in all the other gospels too, with slightly different aspects brought out. We could probably harmonise them into a few points.

  • He wanted people to seek forgiveness and radically alter the path of their lives. He wanted people to come to Yahweh with a changed heart and changed lives.
  • He rejected any notion that Jewishness would save from the coming judgement. ANY tree, that does not bear fruit would be done away with [Luke 3:9] . Whether jewish or not, if you’re not showing signs of new life… then goodbye. Being a son of Abraham meant nothing in the new Kingdom movement. [Matt 3:9]
  • He pointed people towards a messiah who would complete the work that He had started, that would separate people, not based on their ethnicity, but on their change of heart. [Matt 3:12]

One commentator (Alfred Plummer) basically said that John had symbolically excommunicated the whole nation of Israel, and would only allow people back in if they showed sorrow for their sins and were committed to a change in their life. He plunged them under the water, to bury the polluted ‘old Israel’, and then made them rise again to a new Israel and new life.So Jesus came to sign up to this new Israel.

Just like everyone else

Remember this was the start of Jesus’ ministry. Nobody knew who he was, except John the Baptist. Jesus was just joining the queue along with everyone else, to get dunked by that ranting prophet in animal furs. Can you ever cease to be amazed at the humility of Jesus?! The great messiah (God made flesh), whose public ministry started by going up to another local preacher and saying “I basically agree with what he says”. (Can you imagine one of the labour leader candidates saying that: vote for me, I basically agree with everything that other guy says).

Of course, we know the added twist; and so does John the Baptist. That this humble man is the one who would one day hold that winnowing fork and separate the wheat from the chaff. He who would bring down a baptism of spirit and fire, (on the world eventually, but first, on himself.)

So in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism when John says “No, you should be baptising me…” and Jesus says “this is done to fulfil all righteousness”. We can see the awareness that Jesus has: This baptism that Jesus is humbly signing up to, is actually all about Him. Jesus subordinates himself to John, but John’s message points back to Jesus. Christ’s point of humility, is also his point of exaltation.

And You see that echoed in a minute when God the Father speaks. This man who is currently looking just like all the rest, who is being dunked in the same dirty water as everyone else... This man is "my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." [Matt 3:17] It is the humility of Christ, that pleases the father.