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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE BAPTISM OF JESUS

Matt 3:13-17 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered Him. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Also see Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34)

During Jesus' first thirty years living on earth as a human being, there are very few records that cover this very short span of His personal life. For all practical matters, Jesus' life, to this point, was spent in private obscurity, most of which while He lived in Nazareth of Galilee. Jesus did not just happen upon John, as he was teaching and baptizing in the Jordan River. The lesson text says that Jesus came to Him - it was intentional and with purpose. Certainly seeking the baptism of John was not for the purpose of redemption from sins, because Jesus, as the Son of God, was sinless. Jesus sought this rite, not only to set Himself apart for His earthy ministry, but also establish an ordinance of spiritual holiness demanded by God that was to be required in the New Testament covenant that He was about to established. Jesus waspreparing Himself to fulfill the true purpose for which He was sent to earth by His Heavenly Father - to offer the hope of eternal salvation to all people of the world that were willing to obey God's will and, through baptism, become His children and members of the church of Christ that was established on the Day of Pentecost. His submission to baptism ushered in Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Savior of the world.

On this day Jesus fulfilled John's God-given mission on earth, which was to prepare ye the way of the Lord, (and) make His paths straight (Matt. 3:3). When Jesus came, from Nazareth of Galilee (Mark. 1:9), unto John, to be baptized of him in the river Jordan, many repentant Jews had already come to John on that day and had been baptized (Luke 3:21). In the humility that characterized the Son of God, Jesus came to John to be baptized. Not only did Jesus, during His earthly ministry, teach the Godly characteristic of humility, but also, in this instance, He exemplified it in His life. Although there is no recorded evidence that Jesus ever met him, it is evident that John recognized Jesus, not merely as his earthly cousin, but as the promised Messiah. And in doing so, John recognized his inferiority by asking Jesus: I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? The multitude that previously thought John was the Christ (Luke 3:15), now hears him confess Jesus to be far superior to himself.

Although John thought he was not worthy to baptize Him, Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Repentant baptism was a Jewish rite that was established by God and ushered in by John. Recognizing the significance of this act, Jesus, although sinless, submitted to baptism as an example of obedience forother Jews, as well as all mankind thereafter,to follow. Then he suffered Him - that is, he baptized Jesus, immersing His body in the waters of the Jordan River.

What followed the baptism of Jesus was probably the most glorious sight ever witnessed in the land of Palestine, or, for that matter, throughout the world through all its ages. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water, assuring us that baptism is complete water immersion. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us that the heavens were opened. The sky, as humans know it, opened to reveal a celestial scene, and from it the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him (Jesus Christ). And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Although some bible scholars contend that the multitudes did not physically witness the Spirit of God descending from heaven and lighting upon Jesus, all seem to agree that they heard the voice of God announcing, and confirming, Jesus to be His Son and the promised Savior. Although the apostle John doesn't record this event in the same manner as the other three gospel accounts, he does write that John the Baptist testified that God foretold of the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him (Christ), and this would confirm Jesus to be the one which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And this occurring, John the Baptist testified that he saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God (John 1:32-34).