July 23 – His story: Man’s rescue – The Rescuer baptized? Why?

Read Matthew 3:1-17

There are large voids in the biblical description of the life of Christ. From His birth until His baptism, we have very little information. We only know about:

• His encounters with Simeon and Anna in the temple when He was just a few days old (Lk. 2:22-40)

• His flight to and from Egypt starting when He was perhaps 2 years old (Matt. 2:13-23)

• His parents “losing” Him and days later “finding” Him in the temple when He was 12 years old (Lk. 2:41-51)

Apart from those experiences, the only thing we can say with certainty about Jesus from birth to the approximate age of 30 (and throughout the rest of His life) is that He didn’t sin.

OK. So, if He didn’t sin, why did He insist on being baptized by John the Baptist? Wasn’t John’s baptism one of repentance? Didn’t he prepare people for the Messiah by inviting them to turn from sin and express faith in God? Wasn’t John asking people to give a symbolic statement of their change of direction through water baptism? And yet, Jesus needed none of those. There was no sin to turn from, no change of direction that had taken place. He is God…and as such never had and never will sin. No baptism necessary, right?

But Jesus insisted and John obliged. Under the rationale of “fulfilling all righteousness,” Jesus went under the water. And with the affirmation of His Father’s pleasure, Jesus came up out of the water (“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” v. 17). Baptism was one of many ways in which the sinless Son of God humbly identified Himself with sinful man. He did it through His birth as a man. He did it through baptism. As we will see tomorrow, He was tempted like the rest of us. He willingly associated with people labeled as “sinners.” And, of course, He did it ultimately and finally by taking the punishment for man’s sin upon Himself in dying on the cross. The Rescuer entered into the world of those He rescued.

Thank you, Jesus, for identifying with me!

Steve Kern

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