Let It Be
Lord Jesus, Lamb of God, make us ready to do Your will.
Read MATTHEW 3:13–17
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
If you witnessed a baptism and a voice from heaven accompanied the event, what would you be thinking?
Acceptance of God’s way can be frightening, difficult, painful and life-changing. Here are John and Jesus at such a moment. The growing-up years have passed. The older cousin is already fulfilling his role. Now it is Jesus’ time, intentionally journeying from Galilee to be baptized by John (13).
John’s deference echoes our first thoughts (14). Why would Jesus need to be baptized by him? Jesus’ answer (15) suggests their mutual awareness of God’s plans: “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill…” John is already assumed to be a prophet; some kind of spiritual awakening is happening (Mark 1:5). This is the moment for the sinless Son of God to demonstrate his identification with sinful humanity. Jesus has his saving mission in view—this is the public beginning. John also has a life-changing moment of humble acceptance as roles are reversed (15): now Jesus has the final word and John baptizes him, signifying the closing days of his ministry. The stage is now set.
This baptism is important for John, for those who witnessed it then, for us today and for Jesus himself. In being baptized, Jesus accepts his mission: “Let it be so” (15). The Spirit (symbolically embodied in the dove, 16; Luke 3:21,22) descends on the praying Jesus and the voice from heaven (reminiscent of a later similar experience on the Mount of Transfiguration; Matt. 17:5) announces: here is God’s Son, the Messiah, sent to “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). In contrast to the fiery judgment of John’s earlier words, now we see God the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—united in gentleness (16,17), bringing God’s loving message of affirmation and redemption. This is Jesus, God’s Son, Savior, Immanuel. Dare we refuse to submit our lives to him?
Think back on your baptism. What did it mean to you? Has your level of commitment waned since that day?
Father God, cleanse us from our sin and put Your power within, that it may be in our lives according to Your righteous purposes.
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