12th January 2023
Read (Matthew 3v13-17)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
If the Pharisees and Sadducees were unlikely candidates for baptism then Jesus trumped them all. The Lord had travelled from Galilee to the Jordan river in oder to be baptised by John (v13). John was not an arrogant man and he understood fully his place in redemption history. He had already declared that he was unworthy to untie the sandals of Christ (v???) and so immediately stated he needed to be baptised by Christ and not the other way round (v14).
However the Lord was insistent saying “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (v15) John put aside his opposition and Jesus was baptised. But why? In the earlier verses of this chapter it was clear that John’s baptism was one related to repentance of sin. Was Christ seeking baptism because of sin? Surely not! We confess Jesus as the sinless, spotless lamb of God who was without and stain or blemish. Christ’s baptism wasn’t to confess His own sin but to identify Himself with sinners.
We read in Isaiah 53v12 “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” Christ our Saviour willingly was numbered with the transgressors, He was reckoned to be a sinner and to save sinners He took their place and their punishment. This explains the baptism of Christ - He was not repenting of His own sins because He was sinless, rather He was publicly identifying Himself with sinners as the suffering servant who would die to set sinners free.
What came next only served to confirm the arrival of the Messiah. The heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ like a dove (v16) before a a voice from heaven declared “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (v17). The word “trinity” is not used in Scripture but we rightly believe that “trinity” accurately describes our God. We come to this conclusion by “good and necessary consequence”. What do we mean? The good and necessary consequence of passages like this one is that our God is Triune in nature. The good and necessary consequence of Genesis 1v1-3 is that our God is Triune. The good and necessary consequence of John 1v1-3 is that our God is Triune.
We are Trinitarians and whilst the doctrine of the Trinity is complex we confess that there is one God, three persons, all equal. Our God is one but He has revealed Himself in three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father is not the boss of the Son and the Spirit is not more important than the Father. The three persons of the Trinity are equal in power, authority, might and glory. As the old hymn suggests “God in three persons, blessed Trinity!”
But the events after Christ’s baptism weren’t just to teach about the Trinity, rather Scripture was being fulfilled. Isaiah 42v1 states “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” and Psalm 2v7-8 says “I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.’”
Christ’s baptism identified Him with the sinners He had come to save and the Father’s declaration alongside the Spirit’s descent identified Him as the suffering servant long promised by the law and prophets. Brothers and sisters, the events of Matthew 3 were a public declaration of the glory and validity of Christ. If you are seeking a saviour Matthew 3 is a signpost which declares “Here He is! Look at Christ! He’s the One! This way and no other! It’s Christ! It’s Him! Behold the Lamb of God!” What a joy it is to be a Christian! Our eyes have been opened to the beauty of Christ and as we gaze upon Him, we remember the Father’s declaration “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Whoever has trusted this Christ will therefore never be put to shame.
Q48 What are we specially taught by these words, "before me," in the first commandment? These words, "before me," in the first commandment teach us, that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other God.