Richard Whitaker- Discipleship and Connections Pastor LHBC

Matthew 3:13-17
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.  John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;  and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (ESV) Matthew 3:13-17 

Just look at our awesome Savior!  Jesus, the sinless Son of God, comes from Galilee to John the Baptist for baptism.  This peculiar step, at the very start of his earthly ministry, raises questions. John’s baptism is described as a baptism of repentance (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3).  What sin had Jesus committed that justified baptism by John? None. Then why did Jesus, Savior of the World, come for baptism? Because the Son was obeying the Father’s will. 

In His role as the Son of Man, Jesus allowed himself to very publicly identify with you and me, to place himself under the ministry of John, treated like a sinner in need of repentance – though he had no sin.  Perhaps acknowledging this discrepancy, Jesus says to John, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness.” As our example, Jesus wasn’t about to start his earthly ministry half way.  He “fulfilled all righteousness” from start to finish.  Not, some righteousness, but “all righteousness“.  

To help us understand the beauty of Jesus in this moment, the apostle Paul describes Jesus’ inner character in his letter to the church at Philippi,  “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Phil 2:5-7  To serve all of mankind, Jesus emptied himself of his royalty, rights, and glory.  In response to His humble act, God the Father overwhelmingly lavished glory on Jesus by opening heaven, visibly sending the Holy Spirit, and voicing His pleasure with the Son!   

We follow Jesus today when we adopt the mind of Christ and empty ourselves of the rights and privileges we have as the children of God.  By placing ourselves last, we find time to abide in Christ and consistently love our family and neighbors. We also find ourselves becoming more like Christ, filled with tangible expressions of the Holy Spirit’s presence, and enjoying the pleasure of our Heavenly Father who opens heaven to say, “That’s it! You’re doing it!  Way to go! I’m proud of you! You gave up your time and treasure in this life, wait until you see the treasure that awaits you for all eternity!” Friend, what needs to be deleted from your ways in this life so that you can fulfill all righteousness, like Jesus did?

Lord Jesus, I am struck by how humble and beautiful you are.   Thank you for identifying with me and emptying yourself in every way for my sake.  Help me today. Destroy every ounce of pride, the desire for material things, desire to be served, desire for self preservation, and anything else that blocks my way to you and my neighbors.  I give you my life. Make it what you want so that your Kingdom can come through me – into my family and neighborhood – as it is in heaven. Amen

Psalm 119:18
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.