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Author: Ron Graham

Lessons About Jesus

Why Was Jesus Baptised by John the Baptist?
—Matthew 3:13-17

This lesson answers the question, 'Why did John baptise Jesus?'. It is a simple answer drawn from a portion of Matthew chapter three as follows...

NOTE: I have marked four keywords.

Matthew 3:13-17

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?' (Matthew 3:13-14 NKJV).

15But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed Him (Matthew 3:15 NKJV).

16When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'” (Matthew 3:16-17 NKJV).

1 To Do What is Fitting

In verse 15, Jesus says of his baptism, "It is fitting" (Matthew 3:15).

The general purpose of John’s baptism is stated by Mark. He says, "John came baptising in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mark 1:4).

That cannot be the purpose of baptising Jesus, however, because "He did no sin nor was any deceit found in his mouth" (1Peter 2:22). He had no sins of which to repent and be forgiven.

Nevertheless, Jesus insisted that it was fitting and proper for John to baptise him. If they had not done what was fitting in the sight of God, they would both have been disobedient to God and thus guilty of sin.

Now someone will ask why it was fitting for John to baptise Jesus. It was fitting because it foreshadowed the sufferings that Jesus would later endure, which sufferings were also fitting.

"For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10 NKJV).

John’s baptism was "for the forgiveness of sins". Whilst Jesus had no sin of his own to be forgiven, he would have the whole world's sins to bear on the cross (1John 2:2, 1Peter 2:24).

You will notice that as soon as Jesus told John that the baptism was fitting, John ceased to object, changed his mind, and baptised Jesus.

Christ’s death would be "expedient" as Simeon prophesied (John 11:50 KJV). It would occur in "the fullness of time" Galatians 4:4-5). It is fitting therefore that in his baptism Jesus should foreshadow his death.

2 To Fulfill All Righteousness.

In verse 15, Jesus says that he was being baptised "to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15)

Jesus was concerned that righteousness should be filled to the full with all that is right and appropriate (Matthew 3:15).

It was Jesus’s mission to offer himself to the Father perfectly righteous. He was totally dedicated to that.

Jesus declares this dedication in the prophetic psalm: "Then I said, 'Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart. I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness In the great assembly'" (Psalm 40:7-9a NKJV, cf Hebrews 10:7-10).

John understood that the righteousness of Jesus was perfect. John also knew that his own righteousness was not. That's why he thought he should not baptise Jesus. But he learned that without baptism Jesus would not have perfect righteousness.

3 To Open the Heavens.

In verse 16, After his baptism, Jesus came out of the water and behold "the heavens were opened to him" (Matthew 3:16)

Jesus was granted a window into heaven. From this opening the Holy Spirit descended like a dove upon Jesus and a voice from Heaven bore God’s testimony that Jesus is God’s Son (Matthew 3:16-17).

John the Baptizer testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and He remained on Him" (John 1:32 NKJV).

This reminds us of the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8). Peter writes, "And we heard this voice which came from [the excellent glory] when we were with Him on the holy mountain." (2Peter 1:17-18 NKJV).

Without the baptism of Jesus, Heaven would have stayed shut, its testimony unspoken.

4 To Please God.

In verse 17, God spoke from heaven saying of his beloved Son, "In him I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17).

It is the goal of every Christian to please God, keeping his commandments, and living by faith. This was also our Master’s goal, and he met it well in all things as even the people said (Mark 7:37).

It was immediately after the baptism of Jesus that God said, "In him I am well pleased". Jesus pleased God in many ways. Being baptized was one of them —and by no means the least.

Jesus was wellpleasing to God, not just for his own integrity, but also for yours. Through him, by grace, God is able to "make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:21 NKJV).

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Webservant Ron Graham

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