Study 3 THE MEANING OF HIS BAPTISM
THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: Mark 1:1-11
In the life of our Lord Jesus Christ there were several great landmarks. The first was His birth at Bethlehem – look up Luke 2:1-7; the next was when He was baptised in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. In this study we are to consider the manner and the significance of His baptism. First we need to read Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23 and John 1:29-34.
We wonder what happened during those ‘hidden years’ at Nazareth! We know that the perfect and holy babe who was born in Bethlehem grew into childhood and then into manhood – look up Luke 2:40 and 52; we cannot understand the full significance of these words, but we know that He “grew” and experienced all that we experience (apart from sin) in babyhood, childhood and manhood. Notice that Luke 2:40 and 52 tell us that He grew: (1) Mentally – “in wisdom…”; (2) Physically – “in stature…”; (3) Spiritually – “in favour with God…”; and (4) Socially – “in favour with man…”. How wonderful that the Eternal Son of God should voluntarily become a man and subject Himself to all the limitations of a human body! Why? – in order that we might become sons of God and heirs of God – look up Galatians 4:4-7.
As we have noticed, the baptism of Jesus is in all four Gospels, and this fact emphasises the importance of this step in the Saviour’s earthly life. John the Baptist was our Lord’s forerunner, who had been sent by God “to prepare the way of the Lord”. John preached and baptised his converts in the River Jordan, and one day the Lord Jesus came to be baptised – look up Matthew 3:13-15. What a great moment this was for John! He baptised Jesus, and three wonderful things happened – look up Matthew 3:16-17. What was (and is) the meaning, the significance of His baptism? Let us notice the following:
1. At His baptism the Lord Jesus was declared by the highest authority to be the Second Person of the Trinity, God’s Beloved Son
God Himself gave testimony to the absolute deity of the Lord Jesus – look up Matthew 3:17, and compare Matthew 17:5 and John 12:28. Long before, the Prophet Isaiah had written – look up Isaiah 9:6; and at the annunciation to Mary, the Angel had said – look up Luke 1:35. After His baptism, John said – look up John 1:34. Notice also that the Trinity is revealed in this baptismal scene – the Son is being baptised, the Spirit is descending as a dove, and the Father is speaking from the Glory! How the greatness of our Lord’s Person shines out as we see Him in Jordan’s waters!
2. At His baptism the Lord Jesus demonstrated the truth of that saying of His, “I am gentle and humble in heart…” (Matthew 11:29)
He was God’s beloved Son, yet He voluntarily submitted to this ordinance of baptism. He asked John to baptise Him – look up Matthew 3:13 and 15. Now read very carefully Matthew 20:27-28; Philippians 2:5-8 and 1 Peter 3:4. Do we possess this quality of meekness, of humility? – look up 1 Peter 5:5. One of the most impressive passages in the Gospels is John 13:1-17.
3. At His baptism the Lord Jesus signified His willingness and His intention to be the sin-bearer and Saviour of His people
This was His public inauguration to the great and essential work He had come to do, His redeeming work. In one sense He certainly did not need to be baptised, for He had no sins to repent of or to confess, but in order that He might identify Himself with sinful man and lay His spotless life at the disposal of the Father for the purposes of redemption, He submitted to this rite – look up John 1:29 and Matthew 20:28.
4. At His baptism the Lord Jesus portrayed the manner in which His redemptive work was to be accomplished
Think of it! He was baptised, immersed. (1) The Greek word signifies this. (2) Matthew 3:16 and Mark 1:9-10 surely imply immersion (notice, “out of the water…” “in – not ‘at’ or ‘by’ – Jordan”). (3) Look up John 3:23. (4) Compare Romans 6:4. Baptism is therefore a picture of death, burial and resurrection. Now compare Paul.s description of the Gospel – look up 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
5. At His baptism the Lord Jesus, as the Son of Man, was definitely anointed with the Holy Spirit for His earthly ministry
Read Luke 3:21-22, and then compare Luke 4:18 and Acts 10:38. But what about ourselves? Before we are fitted for service we must have the same empowering – look up and compare Luke 11:13; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:4 and Ephesians 5:18. If the Lord Jesus needed this holy anointing before He began His public ministry, how much more do we!
6. At His baptism the Lord Jesus left us an example, that we should follow His steps (1 Peter 2:21)
He was baptised in order “to fulfil all righteousness”; or, in order to do that which was right and pleasing in God’s eyes, and His word to us is, “Follow Me!” – look up John 21:22 and compare Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15-16. Trace out the references to believers being baptised in the Book of Acts, and notice that baptism is not a denominational matter but a New Testament command – look up John 14:15. Here are the references: Acts 2:37-41; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:36-39; Acts 9:17-18; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 16:14-15; Acts 16:30-34; Acts 18:8; Acts 19:1-7.
7. At His baptism the Lord Jesus taught us the most important and the deepest lesson of all
That lesson is this: the full blessing of God can only be experienced when we are ready and willing to obey Him absolutely – look up Matthew 3:17; and compare Acts 9:6 and John 2:5.