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Wednesday: Jesus’ Baptism — 11 Comments

  1. Here is a little Jewish background providing a perspective on Jesus' baptism. It was not until after the Babylonian captivity that the Jews instituted the notion of immersion in a mikvah for converts to Judaism. It symbolised a ritual purification so the participants could take part in the full temple worship. Interestingly, it could be repeated many times. It was an adaptation of Halakha wich was used for ritual purification whenever anybody was deemed to be unclean (eg from handling unclean animals or a corpse). The big difference between the Jewish and Christian concepts of baptism is that Christian Baptism is only performed once.

    The fact that John the Baptist was offering what was essentially seen by the Jews as ritual purification outside of the temple was probably quite newsworthy and somewhat confronting to the Jews of the day. That probably explains the confrontation with the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matt 3:7-10.

    Why did Jesus come to John to be baptised? Did he need purification? Part of the answer is that Jesus is identifying himself with us, and the consequence for us is that our baptism identifies us with him.

    • Thank you Maurice for the insight into baptism. This was a question my husband and I had yesterday. Baptism is not mentioned in the Old Testament that I can recall. The first I recall is with John the Baptist. We are baptized as we follow Jesus example. Thanks again for your insight

  2. Imagine Jesus pounding nails in Joseph's carpentry shop. A customer comes in and mentions that someone is out in the Jordan Valley speaking fresh words about a new life and a new king. Jesus recognizes His call to begin ministry and so after the customer leaves, Jesus closes the shop door, says good-bye to His family, and walks to the route between Galilee and Jerusalem that He would frequently take.

    Jesus went into the wilderness, met John at that wild place rich in meaning - the place where Israel rebelled over and over and God showed His mercy over and over. Now to show His mercy again. Symbolically washed for sins not His own.

    At the Jordan River. Symbolic of crossing over from this life to the next. Going through the murky water, surrounded by violence between nations and deep-seated enmity. The gospel begins in this place of struggle. The place where gritty grains of resentment and regret makes Christ's image-bearers small-minded and ashamed. The place where prejudicial gook covering the eyes is in need of a scrub.

    Jesus emerges up from the water for us so we will be lighter, free, shining, opened up into new persons sharing His life. Jesus is praying for strength and wisdom in this mission. The gates of the heavenly unseen world swing open wide to the Mercy Seat, like the Temple curtain torn. The Father confirms with the Dove that this is a gentle Savior bringing peace to all through His sacrifice. This symbol of new life after cleansing judgment, a flashback of the Ark door opened and the dove carrying the olive leaf (Gen. 8:11; Is. 9:6; 2 Cor. 5:17). God's eyes like a dove, pure, gentle, full of grace (Song of Solomon 1:15). God's voice saying, "You will be weak, despised, rejected, slain, a servant of all - but You will never be rejected by Me! I am always well pleased with You."

    • Amen, and amen. Sis. Esther, your words illuminate the gospel. In these today, I see the Messiah's journey more clearly. I feel it. How there had to be a moment He realized it is time. As much as I've pondered His journey, I had never considered such a moment, and the transition of the trajectory of His life. What it must have been like for Jesus, the Man. And for Jesus, the Son, the Savior of the world. Your words stirred in my mind and my heart the humanity of his journey, more specifically. Also revelatory in some way: His baptism in the Jordan and it's deep relevance to God's people's journey. And how the gospel began in a place of struggle, and ethnic resentment. You've shared a few sentences that serve as confirmation on a path I am called to journey. And I thank you.

  3. Am glad Christ being the way (John 14: 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life) also walked in the way.He didn't merely state it but he lived it.Christ participating in baptsim though he was no sinner is truly overwhelming for he could have gone without being baptised and still be right but He didn't.His humble nature is here displayed and just how much he identifies himself with us (sinners).

    We also see him being driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness.This shows just how totally surrendered He was to God (though He was also God)so much that His will was not the driving force but the Holy Spirit.And all this happened in His human form showing that we can also be driven by the Holy Spirit if we fully commit our lives to God as Christ our example was.

    • Thank you, Olanda, what a beautiful picture of Jesus. And I love how Jesus is not only our example, but also how He is our righteousness FOR us (Matt. 3:15; Is. 53:11; Phil. 3:9). Jesus fulfilled the righteous life required of every sinful human. This means someone like the thief on the cross, repenting just before he took his last breath and having no opportunity to publicly repent and be physically immersed in the symbolic waters of mercy, he was still immersed in Jesus and shared in Jesus's baptism.

      Another special thing about John baptizing Jesus....John made it clear that being Jewish was not the identifying mark of being part of God's people anymore (Matt. 3:9). His baptism for repentance was to gather a people into being who were going to identify with the Messiah, who would belong to the Christ, eventually to be known as "Christians". This new identity is not identical with Jewishness and religious pedigree, but identified with repentance. This was a baptism out of righteousness by works and stubbornness of heart into a righteousness by faith and humility of heart. Even the rocks could join this group if they could make a moral choice. So if the only salvation and security is claiming Jesus as Head, Jesus was baptized as the Head of this new Body of holy people being gathered together from far and near.

  4. Jesus set the example for the continuation of baptism by emersion. I would not want to be the one to change that. John 3:5.

    Another thought, Christ baptism was when the Holy Spirit revealed Himself, symbolized by peace, a peaceful dove. A dove does not speak. God the Father thus revealed himself also, just by speaking. This is my Son in whome I am well pleased. The noise of the flapping wings of the dove, fits the chactoristics of the Holy Spirit, the sound of a wind. Implied in John 3:8.

  5. I appreciate the way the Book of Mark opens; not with genealogies, not with general current, or historical events of the time, but straight to the point.
    "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, As it is written in the prophets:"
    Mark 1,2 NKJV
    When we examine the references that Mark provides we see a pattern.
    Malachi 3:1-5
    A refiner, a purifier will come, Isaiah 40:3-8 A voice crying in the wilderness to straighten out our crooked lives, so that we can approach God with clean hand and a pure heart. (Psalms 24:4, Psalms 19:12,13,14)
    Notice how prophecy is being fulfilled by John the Baptist; "John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Mark 1:4 NKJV
    "And we're all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins." Mark 1:5 NKJV
    Here now is the church on the verge of eternity, and I must ask myself in the most pointed manner as possible: "Can I endure the day of His coming? Can I stand when He appears?"
    (Malachi 3:2)
    The Book, "Steps to Christ" outlined almost exactly the opening verses of the Gospel of Mark: "The Sinners Need for Christ", "Repentance",and "Confession".
    "Deal truly with your own soul. Be as earnest, as persistent, as you would be if your mortal life were at stake. This is a matter to be settled God and your own soul, settled for eternity. A supposed hope, and nothing more, will prove your ruin."
    (From the chapter on repentance page 35)
    Last Sabbath's lesson was referencing the 10 virgins of Matthew 25:1-13
    How were the five of them left out in the darkness, weeping? By ignoring the "The beginning of gospel of Jesus Christ"
    "There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away. This will be the result of genuine sorrow for sin. The work that we have to do on our part is plainly set before us:" ( Steps to Christ in the chapter "Confession" page 39
    The surrender of self is going to be a struggle! It is even a prophecy:
    "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and not be able." Luke 13:24
    Brothers and sisters, let us pray for one another that all of us waiting for the wedding party to arrive, will have our lamps be burning bright in these coming dark dark days ahead.

  6. The love of God for us is described as infinite, boundless, and unconditional. It surpasses human understanding and transcends all limitations. It's a constant, unchanging love that is always available, regardless of our circumstances or actions. Many religious and spiritual traditions emphasize that God's love is so vast that it encompasses all creation and extends to every individual, offering forgiveness, compassion, and guidance. It's a love that seeks our well-being and ultimate fulfillment, aiming to bring us closer to spiritual growth and understanding.

    ChatGPT is answering the question, "How big is the love of God for us?

  7. Maurice’s comment brings to mind the difference between the required rituals for attaining forgiveness during the old Covenant and the faith-based forgiveness of sin of the new Covenant. With the new Covenant, God extends to all the ‘remission of sin’ through faith in the teachings of His Word by His Son Jesus Christ, whereas the old Covenant required obedience to the written requirements of the Law through observing rituals.

    John's teaching posed the most significant thread to the religious leadership - making them obsolete as 'overseers' of the adherence to the Law! Jesus Christ, their Messiah, had come in person to replace them with the power of the Holy Spirit. As I see it, Jesus testified to the Truth of the Word of God given to the prophets that the ‘Way of the Law’ would come to its end, being replaced by the 'New Way' of the new Covenant which writes it on the believer's heart and mind through faith.

    Yes, John called upon everyone to repent first, but then he directed them to go seek out Jesus to learn that they could be baptized with the Holy Spirit to guide them to learn about the remission of their sins through faith. The time had come for Israel that everyone should know that the old Covenant of the Law had been replaced by the new one which, when believed, assures forgiveness through faith in the Word of God; God does not lie – Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18.

    The new Covenant broke the tetheres binding the believer to the religious leadership’s judgment about having correctly followed the rules of the Law, setting him free to engage directly with the heavenly Father through applying the teachings of His Son Jesus Christ by faith.
    John’s preaching as well as the baptism of Jesus ushered in the time of the greatest spiritual changes Israel and the world would ever experience.

  8. As it was the sin of man the penalty Death had to be paid.
    Therefore, only by becoming man {HUMAN}, could Jesus atone
    for the transgression of GOD'S law.


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