Calvary Road Baptist Church

“CHRIST’S BAPTISM”

Matthew 3.13-17; Mark 1.9-11; Luke 3.21-23

 

Matthew 3.13-17:

 

13     Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14     But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15     And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16     And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17     And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 

Mark 1.9-11:

 

9      And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

10     And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

11     And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 

Luke 3.21-23:

 

21     Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

22     And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

23     And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

 

Mark 1.9 tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ came from Galilee and was baptized of John in the Jordan River. Notice the word “in” in Mark 1.9. Quite apart from the fact that the word “baptize” in the Greek language definitely refers to immersion, this small word “in” begins to show additional proof that the baptism of the Bible is, has always been, and can only be, baptism by immersion. This is because the Greek word translated “in,” the word eiV, is a preposition that means “into” or “unto.”[1]

Now take notice of Matthew 3.14-15:

 

14     But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15     And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

 

When the Lord Jesus Christ came to John the Baptist to be baptized by him, the Baptist balked. His had always been a baptism to, or of, repentance. It simply did not to him seem proper for the Holy One of Israel to identify with such an admission of sinfulness as was pictured by his baptism. However, the Lord Jesus Christ overruled His mistaken cousin and insisted that he baptize Him, saying to him, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”[2] Then John baptized our Lord.

There is a great deal of speculation concerning the possible reasons for our Lord’s baptism, and exactly what He meant about fulfilling all righteousness. Without being dogmatic, let me review the various reasons, after which I will share what my particular opinion happens to be. Absolutely no one who is truly born again believes the Lord’s was a baptism of repentance, as were the other baptisms that John administered. Anyone who would suggest that Christ’s was a baptism of repentance is impugning the sinless nature Christ. Jesus did not sin; therefore, He had no need to repent.

Some believe that Christ was baptized as an example for us to follow who would later believe in Him. Still others believe that His baptism was an object lesson predicting His Own death, burial, and resurrection. This was, of course, pictured as He was laid back in the water, was momentarily under water, and then as He was lifted from the water by the Baptist.

There are even some who are the opinion that His baptism was a means of identification with the sinners who were being baptized following confession of their sins. That would mean that the Lord, as our substitutionary sacrifice for sins, began at His baptism to take upon Himself, or to identify Himself with, the sinners He would eventually give His life for.

There may be, no doubt, other reasons put forth by Bible teachers, but these are the main reasons put forth. I do not really disagree with even one of these opinions. I believe them all to be somewhat valid. However, it strikes me that none of the proposed explanations I am familiar with specifically addresses what Christ meant when He spoke about fulfilling all righteousness.

Now let me give you my personal, though not dogmatic, response. We know from Galatians 4.4 that our Lord was made, or born, under the Law of Moses that He might redeem them that are under the Law of Moses. Paul wrote, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” Therefore, we can be sure that He did explicitly obey and fulfill the Law of Moses in all its requirements to the nth degree.

We also know from numerous passages that one of Christ’s offices was that of priest. Indeed, Hebrews shows Him to be our great High Priest. I read Hebrews 4.14: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.”

My feeling is this with respect to this question: Though our Lord Jesus was not born a Levite, but rather a member of the tribe of Judah, He nevertheless did receive a proper induction into His priestly office according to the guidelines of the Mosaic Law, which Law He was born under and obeyed throughout His span of life on earth.

In Leviticus chapter 8, we find the requirements that God set forth for the consecration of a man to the priesthood. Except for the provisions having to do with the priest’s sinfulness, which provisions would obviously not apply to the sinless Son of God, my Lord was inducted into His priesthood in a manner quite parallel to the provisions set forth in this chapter. Leviticus 8.1-12:

 

1      And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2      Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread;

3      And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

4      And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

5      And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the LORD commanded to be done.

6      And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.

7      And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith.

8      And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim.

9      And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the LORD commanded Moses.

10     And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.

11     And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them.

12     And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.

 

Several things need to be pointed out by way of caution before we continue: Though inducted in this way, remember that the Lord Jesus Christ was not the same kind of priest as any of the Israelite priests before Him. They were priests after the order of Aaron, but Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek.[3] Additionally, though other priests offered many sacrifices, Christ offered a sacrifice only one time, according to Hebrews 9.28: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” The sacrifice He offered was Himself.

For a man to be inducted into the priesthood he must be consecrated by another priest. However, what was John the Baptist? He was a priest. He was the son of a priest. Remember, his father Zacharias was informed of his birth by the angel Gabriel . . . in the holy place in the Temple as he was performing his priestly duties, Luke 1.5ff. John was, therefore, fully qualified to perform this honorable task of baptizing our Lord. You might have taken notice of the fact that baptism fulfills the requirement of ceremonial washing, but where does the anointing oil come in? Read Matthew 3.16-17 again:

 

16     And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17     And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 

All through the Old Testament, oil is used as a symbol for the Holy Spirit of God. Indeed, all of the small “m” messiahs were anointed with oil, whether they were priests or kings. How appropriate, then, that the capital “M” Messiah not be anointed with the symbol of the Holy Spirit, but with the actual Holy Spirit Himself.

Therefore, the picture is complete. Our Lord Jesus was consecrated, or set apart, for His priesthood by John’s baptism. The Holy Spirit of God coming upon Him from heaven then anointed him for His priesthood. Finally, there came the blessing of His Father in heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matthew 3.17.

Begging your pardon to now allow me to make some remarks related to this whole episode in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ relative to certain subjects of popular appeal.

First, in regards to the doctrine of the Trinity. We believe, and the Bible teaches, the threefold personality of the One indivisible Godhead. Here, at the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, as Matthew, by Mark, and by Luke, records it we see simultaneous manifestations of each of the divine Persons of the Triune Godhead. The Father is speaking. The Spirit is descending. The Son is being baptized. Being able to scripturally show each of these three persons to be God, the Trinity is hereby illustrated. It is with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity that such groups as the Unitarians, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the United Pentecostal Church are in erroneous agreement with the ancient cult known as Arians.

Second, concerning this pet symbol used by various religious groups, some of whom claim a monopoly on the Holy Spirit, let me draw your attention to what the Word of God teaches. So profound is their ignorance that I have any number of times been asked by people involved in these various groups, “Do you Baptists believe in the Holy Spirit?”

Exodus 20.4: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” This, of course, is the second commandment of the Decalogue. Though this commandment was not given to Gentiles, it should cause us to be particularly careful about attaching significance to any picture, or symbol, or religious article of any kind. This applies to the problem of superstition in regards to religious artifacts such as crucifixes and medallions, as well as the modern day trend of assuming special spirituality for those who flash or banter about the sign of the dove.

Turn your attention to this particular dove logo that has become so popular in recent years to see how valid it really is. Read each of the four gospel accounts of this incident, Matthew 3.16, Mark 1.10, Luke 3.22 and John 1.32, and you will find in each of these verses a simile wherein the manner in which the Spirit of God descended upon the Lord Jesus Christ when He came up out of the water was “like” a dove in Matthew, “like” a dove in Mark, “as” a dove in Luke, and “like” a dove in John. The same Greek word, wsei, is used in each verse, as well.

For the greater part of the 20th century, and indeed in other centuries, some erroneously concluded, after a superficial study of these passages, and have assumed that our Lord’s baptism was marked by the Holy Spirit of God coming from heaven in a bodily form that looked like a dove and then gently descended upon our Lord. Careful examination of the scripture shows conclusively that this is not; repeat not, what the gospel writers meant to indicate by what they wrote. Upon careful scrutiny of this event, in each of the gospel accounts you will see the following truths stated:

 

#1  Immediately following His baptism the Lord Jesus prayed.

#2  Either during or shortly following His prayer the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended.

#3 The Holy Spirit, as He descended, had a bodily form. There is no evidence of any kind that anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ and John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit descending. For all we know the information contained in the gospel accounts came either from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself or from John the Baptist. It must be emphasized that no one else saw this.

#4  The particular word “like,” translating wsei in John 1.32, does not refer to the appearance of the Holy Spirit, but to the manner in which He came upon the Savior. Comparison of all four verses will reveal that what is compared to a dove is not the appearance of the Holy Spirit, but the way in which the Spirit descended, as a dove lights when it lands. In other words, this is an action of the Holy Spirit, which is being expressed, not His appearance being described.

 

In conclusion: When factions in Christendom assume some kind of religious sign or symbol and state or imply, whether openly or by attitude and action, that there is something spiritual about that sign or symbol, especially when their belief is mistaken . . . there is a problem. You see, if the person who says that he has a superior spiritual experience, or who states that he has a higher level of intimacy with the Spirit of God, really does have that, then it is most probable that he would also be aware of such a simple fact as this about Him. Amen? Therefore, I, challenge any such claim of superior spiritual experience. As well, I demand that any claim anyone makes concerning his relationship with the Spirit of God be backed up with Biblical proof. After all, Jesus said that He (the Holy Spirit) will guide you into all truth.

 

SERMON:

 

Baptism, which is to say the immersion in water of a qualified candidate by someone with proper authority, is more important to Baptists than others in the Christian community. It has been the subject of more intensive study by Baptists than by other denominations. Whether the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ is considered, or the baptism of a repentant sinner by John the Baptist, or someone baptized subsequent to the great saving work of our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection, baptism pictures the same thing.

When John the Baptist baptized repentant sinners, he was by his baptism picturing the anticipated death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah he was sent to prepare for. When repentant sinners are baptized in these days subsequent to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, baptism typifies our identification with the Savior who had performed that great saving work on our behalf in the past.

However, what about the Lord Jesus Christ’s baptism? To be sure, His baptism was part of His induction into His priestly office, along with the coming upon Him of the Holy Spirit. However, with the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as others who were baptized, baptism by immersion in water always typifies the same thing. It signifies the death of someone, the burial of someone, and the raising of someone from the dead.

When John the Baptist immersed a candidate, it was in anticipation of that repentant sinner’s sins being appropriately dealt with by a coming Savior. When a candidate is immersed in our day, it is to testify of the believer’s sins having already been appropriately dealt with by a Savior who has already come. However, when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, His baptism testified of His identification with the sinners He would die a substitutionary death for, would then be buried for, but would also gloriously rise from the dead for.

So you see, in various ways, depending upon whose baptism is being considered, baptism always speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ’s death, followed by His burial, with His subsequent resurrection from the dead. This morning, we will consider those three parts of baptism and what they represent:

 

First, CONSIDER THE DEATH TYPIFIED BY BAPTISM

 

The death that is typified by baptism, be it the baptism of a sinner by John the Baptist, the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, or the baptism of a Christian in this era following Christ’s resurrection that we frequently identify as the church age, is always our Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross of Calvary. No other death is in view no matter who is baptizing, or when.

How is the Lord Jesus Christ’s death typified in baptism? Three reasons will help you see the proper place of baptism with respect to our Lord’s death on the cross:

First, our Lord’s death on the cross was saving. It is not a foreign concept to any of us that the death of one person should deliver another person, or group of people. Acts of heroism occur every day, whereby someone offers his own life to preserve, or to better, someone else’s life. Police officers sometimes do it, firemen more frequently do it, and military personnel do it most frequently of all. However, it is only the Lord Jesus Christ’s death that saves sinners from their sins, and that saves sinners eternally. Romans 5.8-9 is just one of many passages that speaks to this great truth of salvation from sins being the result of the Lord Jesus Christ’s death:

 

8      But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9      Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

 

Second, our Lord’s death on the cross was substitutionary. When you think about it, you will see that it is because our Lord’s death was substitutionary that our Lord’s death was saving. The fact is, you and I were born condemned to die for our sins. God’s just nature demands that sin be appropriately punished (“The wages of sin is death”). Therefore, unless someone die for my sins and suffer my punishment on my behalf, I face the punishment of my sins myself. Thankfully, when Jesus Christ took my sins upon Himself and suffered and bled and died, He did so as my Substitute. First Peter 3.18 declares this astounding truth: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God . . . .”

Third, our Lord’s death on the cross was satisfying. By satisfying, I refer to the satisfaction of God’s just and holy demands that sins be punished. My sins were punished, although I was not punished for my sins. Jesus was punished by His Father for my sins. First John 2.2 declares, “. . . he is the propitiation for our sins. . . .”

Thus, we see that the Lord Jesus Christ’s death was not the death of a martyr, or the death of an example, or the death of a victim. His was the death the Savior, being the punishment of the Innocent on behalf of the sinful to completely satisfy the One who was Offended.

 

Next, CONSIDER THE BURIAL TYPIFIED BY BAPTISM

 

When Jesus gave up the ghost on the cross, a Roman satisfied himself that Jesus was dead by plunging a spear into His side.[4] That done, His body was taken down from the cross and buried in a never before used tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathaea. There the body lay for three days.

What happened during those three days the body was in the grave? Two things:

First, our Lord’s spirit, the immaterial part of Him that was not physical, descended into what we know as Abraham’s bosom. First Peter 3.19 refers to this descent: “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” What was He doing there? He was declaring the good news that their sins, which God had set aside at the time of their saving faith in anticipation of Christ’s sacrificial death, had finally been paid for on Calvary’s cross. What a time of rejoicing it must have been for those Old Testament saints such as Noah and Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, Rahab and Ruth, David and Daniel.

However, while Jesus was preaching to the spirits of the believing dead in Abraham’s bosom, something else was not happening, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Our Lord’s physical body was not corrupting. Psalm 16.10, written a thousand years earlier, promises it: “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Peter’s Pentecostal sermon confirms it: “his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”[5]

There is always an implication whenever a believer in Jesus Christ is baptized, as there was an anticipation whenever John the Baptist baptized anyone, and when our Lord was baptized by John. It was the burial of our Lord, the descent of His spirit into Hell to preach the good news of His sacrificial death to the saints in Abraham’s bosom, with the Savior’s body experiencing absolutely no corruption of any kind during that span of time.

 

Finally, CONSIDER THE RESURRECTION TYPIFIED BY BAPTISM

 

The baptismal candidate cannot be held under water without the risk of death. Very soon, after he is plunged beneath the water he is raised again. This raising up out of the water has always been, and is now, a picture of the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That is, when Jesus rose from the dead He did not rise in spirit, but rose in a glorified physical body that can be see, that can be touched, and which still bears the scars of His crucifixion.

Have you ever given thought to the notion that the only thing in heaven which has its origin on earth are the cuts on our Savior’s brow made by the crown of thorns, the open wound in his side made by the Roman’s spear, and the holes in His hands and feet made by the nails that fixed Him to the cross?

As the baptismal candidate is raised up to walk in newness of life, even so was Jesus Christ raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, Romans 6.4. What a glorious and astounding miracle, attested to by hundreds of witnesses who saw the Lord Jesus raised from the dead, First Corinthians 15.

Although there are many skeptics who not only deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, but who question His existence, such disputes did not arise for several centuries after our Lord rose from the dead. Why not? Too many credible witnesses. Besides, the resurrection of Christ would have been too easy to disprove had it not been true, simply by producing our Lord’s dead body.

So, what does the resurrection of Christ mean to you and me? It means He lives. Jesus lives! He is alive. He was victorious over sin, over death, over Hell, and over the grave. Moreover, He is coming again.

 

Baptism, while not at all a saving ordinance, is an extremely important ordinance. Which is to say that, while baptism does not save anyone from his sins, it is such a profoundly significant display of the gospel truth that we dare not baptize anyone unless we have confidence that person is truly converted to Christ.

Are you converted to Christ? Have you been saved from your sins? Then you need to step up and show yourself a Christian in no uncertain terms so you can be baptized. Contact me about your conversion experience.

If you are not converted to Christ, if you are still in your sins, I invite you to contact me about that, as well. What a terrible tragedy that the Savior died, was buried, and rose from the dead to save sinners from their sins with you still lost.



[1] Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek, (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1950), page 31.

[2] Matthew 3.15

[3] Hebrews 5.5-6

[4] John 19.34

[5] Acts 2.31

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org