13 “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 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; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”(Matt. 3:13-17 ESV)
Matthew does not record for us the length of time between the narratives of Matt. 3:1-12 and today’s text. Eventually, Jesus came from Galilee in northern Israel and traveled south to the Jordan River Valley in order for John to baptize Him.
John was immediately reluctant to do so. He said, ““I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” John recognized that Jesus had no need for repentance. However, Jesus responded by saying, ““Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” What did Jesus mean by this statement?
“In order for all righteousness to be fulfilled, Jesus had to be identified with His people as the bearer of their sins (2 Cor. 5:21). Isaiah foretold that God’s righteousness servant would make ‘many to be accounted righteous’ as He was ‘numbered with the transgressors’ (Isaiah 53:11-12). Ultimately, John’s baptism points to Jesus, for only Jesus’ death on the cross, which He called a ‘baptism’ (Luke 12:50), can take away sins,” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.
It was at that moment that John consented and baptized Jesus. Matthew then stated, “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; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”
The testimony from heaven, not only by the Holy Spirit but also God the Father confirmed Jesus Christ as the Messiah; the royal Son of God (Psalm 2:1-7; Ex. 4:22). Jesus was the Suffering Servant spoken of by Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1).
“God’s kingdom (His sovereign rule in salvation and judgment) is defined by His righteousness. Jesus teaches the perfect righteousness that God requires (Matt. 5:20, 48). He (Jesus) also secures God’s righteousness for sinners. His baptism points to His death as a ‘ransom for many’ (Matt. 20:28) and shows the perfect obedience in which he fulfills all righteousness (Jer. 23:5-6). Remission of sins and the gift of righteousness are received through faith in Jesus (Matt. 8:10; 23:23),” concludes Dr. Sproul.
Have you received the remission of your sins and the gift of righteousness by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone (John 1:12-13)? This is God’s gracious gift to sinners like you and me.
Soli deo Gloria!