Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. V13
Jesus made a deliberate decision to be baptised, which is why I don’t agree with infant baptism. But equally, as an adult you shouldn’t be baptised to please others or because you’re pressured into it. It must be your decision, knowing what you’re doing.
John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” V14
Baptism is part of dealing with our sin. John the Baptist recognised his own need for forgiveness. Have you ever tried to run into the wind? You don’t make much progress for all that effort. It’s the same when you’re going against the call of God. What is hindering you from getting baptised ?
But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. V15
Jesus was decisive in discipleship. He didn’t need baptism but he wanted to be obedient. Discipleship is falling into line with what God is calling you to do. The Ethiopian said to Philip, ‘What hinders me from being baptised?’ Now he understood, he didn’t see any reason to delay.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; V16
Baptism is a delivery from death. It was John the Baptist’s custom to have candidates stay in the water and confess their sins. Jesus came straight out of the water because he didn’t have any sin to confess.
The Holy Spirit coming like a dove reminded them of the ark and the dove, when Noah confirmed that the judgement of God was over.
and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” V17
This was a defining endorsement from above, and echoed the verse in the Psalms:
I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. (Psalm 2:7)
God opens heaven in blessing after baptism, even if you don’t see a dove. There is no better place to be. God is well pleased when we obey.
[adapted from a sermon by Pete Orphan at Pantygwydr Baptist Church]
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more at www.annmariethomas.me.uk