The Jews were accustomed to a regular purification ritual. It came from the Torah and involved washing with water, and was called “mikveh.” And it’s clear that Jesus purposefully selected John to do this. “John the Baptist” was immersing people in the waters of the Jordan River because there was enough water there to do that.
Most of us equate Christ’s baptism with God the Father’s undeniable validation of His Son’s ministry, and indeed it was. But that’s just one dimension of this amazing account. Therein lies the intrigue.
John was conducting “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). Why would the sinless, perfect, spotless, blameless Son of God need to participate in something designed for sinners? Christ had no sin. He knew no sin.
Though John was reluctant to do it, Jesus made it clear that it had to be done: “to fulfill all righteousness.”
What did Jesus mean by that, in light of the fact the He lacked no righteousness?
This is our Lord’s first public identification with people like you and me. Show me a religion where God lowers Himself in order to save, and I’ll say: “You must be reading the Bible!”
Jesus is choosing to identify with us. I want you to remember that this week when you’re tempted to believe that you’re all alone. That nobody understands. That nobody cares.
There is One who cares supremely about even our deepest needs.
In Matthew 3, Jesus is preparing to serve as our perfect substitute. He is entering into the order of Melchizedek so that He can serve as our High Priest and our sacrifice for sin. So He chooses to fulfill certain legal requirements. Every legal requirement, to be exact.
Christ is preparing to remove from us the well-deserved wrath of Almighty God.
He will die for us.
But that’s only the beginning.
Jesus will also positively procure our righteousness. That’s why He insists that John baptize Him.
Christ not only took away our sin by dying for us on the cross, but He earned for us a perfect righteousness – so that we could be positioned as if: a) we never sinned; and b) we always perfectly obeyed, every one of God’s requirements.
Christ died for us.
Christ lived for us too.
Second Corinthians 5:21. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
What a Savior!
You are not alone. Far from it. You are loved with love so strong that not even sin and death can stop it.