15 Jan 2015 by Adeline Lum CM-
On 11th of January, Rev Lau Tong Hoong preached at the 9th Mile Cheras Lutheran Church on the significance of baptism.
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
(Matt 3:15 KJV)
Although Jesus Christ is the Son of God, He chose to be baptized by John the Baptist. (Matt 3:13-15). This is odd because according to the universal compass of righteousness, Jesus should baptize John (Bengal Gnomen’s commentary).
On a side note, it is noteworthy to point out the propriety of Jesus towards John’s scruples from his answers. Jesus used the word ‘suffer’, which means permit. His answer to John’s attempt to defer His baptism is ‘gentle, respectful, dignified, simple, yet deep, deferential, half-yielding, yet strong in its very gentleness.’ (Expositor’s Greek Testament) Perhaps, we can all learn from Jesus’ propriety and humility.
So, why did Jesus choose to be baptized by John? The phrase “all righteousness” here is the same as ‘a righteous institution’ or ‘appointment.’ Jesus was about to enter his great ministry. Hence, it is proper that Jesus ‘submitted to the ordinance of baptism’ in humility, so that every area of His life would be a living testament for all His disciples to follow. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible) His baptism is ‘not a matter of absolute necessity, nor of absolute duty, but of moral fitness.’ (The Pulpit Commentary)
Jesus chose to be baptized as a symbolical act of the older people blessing the representative of the coming age, like how Melchizedek blessed Abraham. (The Pulpit Commentary) What coming age is Jesus symbolizing? Rev Lau shared that through His baptism, Jesus is representing the ending of the age of prophets and the coming of the New Testament age.
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:
(Matt 3:16 KJV)
In the baptism, a Spirit of God descended on Jesus like a dove, a picture of what believers-in-Christ would receive when they believe in Him.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
(Acts 2:2-4 KJV)
Jesus’ baptism also manifested the picture of the Sacred Trinity in our world: we have Jesus Christ the son, the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove and the Father in Heaven approbating Jesus Christ as His Son.
This baptism also happens in order that God can publicly affirm Jesus’ position as the Son of God. Likewise, through baptism, we publicly affirm to others that we are God’s children.
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
(Matt 3:17 KJV)
Lastly, the baptism is a significant event to mark Jesus’ beginning of His ministry. Through our baptism as well, we are given the ministry of reconciliation from God to the world.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
(2 Cor 5:17-21 KJV)
In conclusion, because Jesus went through baptism Himself, it is reasonable to render this act as important in our Christian faith following our confession.
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