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Are you making Him proud.....

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.  But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17, NIV)   

Those words are stirring because this event reveals something essential in our life with Christ—something that we all need to know about Almighty God.   I did not understand this earlier in my life, but these verses show the Father’s profound pride in His one and only Son.  God the Father was, and is, proud of His Son.  Be careful of how you fail to honor that Son, use His name in cursing or swearing—-He is immeasurably precious to God.

I cannot keep count of the times my sons have asked me, after performing a task or doing something well, “Are you proud of me?” They perform small chores, and sometimes diligently attempt to create something that they assume will please me.  But because of my attention to other matters (things that are not nearly as  important) I often fail to compliment them on their good work, and they must remind me with, “Aren’t you proud of me?”  (Shame on me for not praising their efforts enough.)

But praise be to God—Jesus never had to ask that question! His father, the ultimate example of a perfect Father, was quick to tell His Son—“I am proud of you!”.  A good father tells his son, “Well done!…I am pleased with you!…You have once again done what makes me proud!”  Moms and dads, do you say that enough to your sons and daughters?  It appears to me that the warm satisfaction of having your father say that he is proud of you exceeds any fear of his shaming you and saying that he is disappointed.  Are we adults making our Father in heaven proud of us right now?

But oh….that my sons would find that I am as good of a father to them as my Heavenly Father is to me! God have mercy on me and help me see my sons—and other sons and daughters—as You see them! Help me to tell them how proud I am of them when they are obedient  before they have to ask me!

But for a moment, ask yourself why Jesus was baptized.  He was not in need of salvation or repentance, so it was not for the forgiveness of sins—Christ was sinless.  It was not to illustrate that He was in need of anything that separated Him from God.  He was, and remains, the perfect Son.  So why?

I’ve read the words of many men, far more learned than me, about this, and they have offered the theological or soteriological reasons that Christ was baptized.   But let me share the simple reason Jesus was baptized:  Jesus was baptized because it’s what the Father wanted and asked the Son to do. Period.  That’s all we really need to know..  He was humbly, sweetly, meekly, submitting to doing what His Father told Him had to happen.  That’s it.  That’s all that matters. It’s one of those “because I told you so”, reasons that fathers often give their sons.  But this Son, Jesus, didn’t ask why, He simply obeyed.  Oh to have a son or daughter like that….

But we can look at the “why”, for a moment, to better understand  baptism. Again,  Jesus’ baptism did not represent death to the old self  or a new life, as baptism does for you and me.  His baptism confirmed his identity as the special One sent by God—the  Messiah—and demonstrates his willingness to take on human flesh and blood to be the perfect atonement for all sin and death. Jesus was showing us, by His own example, what every believer and follower of Christ must do—i.e. be baptized.

So when you think about it, it seems that Jesus’ baptism has no purpose, for Him,  at all. John’s baptism was the baptism of repentance,  but Jesus was sinless and had no need of repentance. Even John was taken aback at Jesus’ coming to him. John recognized his own sin and was aware that he, a sinful man in need of repentance himself, was unfit to baptize the spotless Lamb of God: “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14). Jesus replied that it should be done  because “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness”

Jesus was baptized because it was the proper thing to do to complete God’s plan.  His baptism played an essential part of God’s preparations to make ALL men righteous. Whether or not you and  I understand all the “whys” of what God does is of  zero significance!  If Jesus did not question God’s plan you can be certain that we should not either!  He demands obedience—not an understanding of His ways—that comes later.

The other gospels all talk about the baptism of Jesus, but only  in Matthew do we learn that John the Baptist himself was hesitant to baptize Jesus.  He was aware that Jesus wasn’t just another person coming to repent and confess his sins.  He protested to Jesus: “I need to be baptized by you, but you are coming to me?” But in John’s defense, the fact that Jesus submitted himself to baptism is striking and not something one would expect—-any more than we would expect Him to offer a sacrifice for His sins at the temple—He was perfect-the Son of God!

Jesus’s answer to John’s reluctance is shows us the very heart of Jesus.  Jesus said, “Let it be so, for it is fitting in this way for us to fulfill all righteousness”.  This is a weighty answer, containing two words—“fulfill” and “righteousness”—the entire point of Christ coming to our world!

And as I said earlier, and quite simply, here’s the entire point: Jesus did what His Father told Him to do—regardless of how seemingly unnecessary, contradictory to common thought, or such a waste of time as it might have appeared to others.  In God’s plan, Jesus baptism was essential piece of  the redemption of all men.   Jesus was sent here to fulfill his role as the obedient Son of God.  And God told Him to be baptized, to show the humility and obedience God expects of any man or woman that wants to experience the redeemed and eternal life—-we are to  submit to God’s plan for  redemption and  be baptized.

So what was Jesus showing us when He was baptized? That God calls us to be righteous, which means heartfelt and faithful obedience to God. In submitting to John’s baptism Jesus is showing himself to be the good and obedient Son who does God’s will perfectly.  He was not a sinner that needed to repent, but He was an obedient Son that was willing to humble Himself and obey His father as an example to the billions of others that would follow in baptism.

God has sent John as the final prophet and messenger of the King’s return and now Jesus comes in line with this and fulfills it by submitting to John’s baptism.  This was the inauguration of His ministry and His work for His Father.  Our baptism its the inauguration of our new life in  service to God. Jesus was our forerunner.

If Jesus,  the divine and incarnate Son of God, can submit to His Father’s wishes, what excuse can any man have for refusing repentance and baptism? If Jesus can whole-heartedly obey the Father by His obedience to ever command, why should we not as well?

Jesus was obedient to every dictate to the Father—even when the Father denied the one and only request Jesus made in the garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus was obedient even to the point of death on a cross, thereby securing our salvation.

Jesus’s baptism signals the coronation of his mission as the obedient Son and of his model of what it means to be faithful to God.

Jesus was baptized as a sign of his dedication (wholehearted obedience), and so too we follow his example. At the same time, his own baptism is transformed in our experience because he is more than just a model. We don’t simply get baptized because he did. We’re baptized into him, and he baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.

But one more thing about baptism. Scripture clearly ties the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives with the event of baptism.  When Jesus was baptized what quickly followed was the descending of a dove—a symbol of the Holy Spirit. God’s favor, the sending of the Holy Spirit—these are all tied up with baptism.  Paul says that by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether black or white or brown man or woman, rich or poor,—we have all been made to receive into one Spirit. The pattern experienced in the early church links baptism and the Holy Spirit.

In the book of Acts we’re told, “And Paul said, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people  that they should believe into Him coming after him, that is, into Jesus Christ.  And hearing, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And as Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.” Acts 19:4-6, NIV

Not only are we identified with Christs death by baptism, we are identified with his life as well. And not only are we identified with the new life, we are also filled with the presence of His Holy Spirit.

Are you a believer that’s not yet been baptized?   If so, you’re not obeying God, and you’re wrong for not making that decision to follow the very example of Jesus, and you’re denying the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. I am saying that you’re not going to heaven or that God does not love you, but you’ve chosen to do things your way, and not the way God showed us in the example of His Son.

This is why Jesus, as an adult, 30 years of age, was baptized.  To make clear His identification with God’s plans for His life, and not His own plans for God—noble as they surely would  have been.

As I said at the beginning, knowing the end result is not the reason Jesus obeyed and was baptized.  He obeyed because  He loved and trusted His father. The end results were God’s plans—not Jesus’.  He simply obeyed and we now have the promise of eternal life!

How many lives could be changed and redirected to Jesus Christ if you and I obeyed Him and stopped arguing about our point of view or the better ideas we have.  God is not so much interested in what we’re planning or doing, as He is that we trust Him and obey Him—in all things.

I challenge those of you baptized to let go and obey God—-in all that you do. I challenge you that know Him but are not baptized, to make things right, experience the descending of the Holy Spirit, and listen to Him whisper to you, “I am well pleased with you….”

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