THE NEW BEGINNING
Merciful God, as I study Your Word each day, may I grow strong in the truth, able to resist all falsehood.
Read MATTHEW 3:13–17
The Baptism of Jesus
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.
As we follow Jesus at the commencement of His public ministry, pray that we may see afresh the grace displayed in His servant life.
When Jesus appeared beside the River Jordan, John the Baptist initially resisted His request for baptism. This is not surprising since this dramatic ritual was normally accompanied by confession of sin, whereas John viewed the Messiah as the Holy One who would usher in the ‘kingdom of heaven’ (v 2). He agrees to Jesus’ request, however, since this will ‘fulfill all righteousness’ (v 15). The phrase looks back to the promises given to Israel that God would break into human history to bring justice and peace and that an anointed ruler would at last turn the dreams of redemption and shalom into reality. Jesus’ baptism and God’s response to it identify Him as the agent of this great transformation and mark His acceptance of the mission to which the heavenly Father has called Him.
The opening of heaven, the vision of the Spirit descending like a dove, and God’s own pleasure in the beloved Son contain multiple echoes of the stories of creation and the Exodus in the Old Testament. The revelation of a reality beyond the perspective we have on earth is a reminder of the cultural difference between us and the world of Matthew and Jesus. The spiritual realm was everywhere taken for granted in ancient times and contact between heaven and earth was not strange or unusual. What is unique is the appearance of the Spirit, symbolized by a dove, and the voice of God affirming the path now publicly chosen by Jesus. This is nothing less than the commencement of the new creation and just as God had been delighted with His own creative work at the beginning of time,1 so now He declares himself ‘well pleased’ (v 17) with the path His Son has chosen to tread.
Reflect on the appearance of the Spirit and the voice of the Father in this passage. What did this mean for Jesus and what does it say to us?
Gracious Father, I have made my claim to follow Jesus. As Jesus embraced the Father’s will for Him, may I embrace Your will for me.