************ Sermon on Luke 3:21-23 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 10, 2016
"Jesus was Baptized Too"
Lord's Supper Sunday
I John Baptized the Crowds
We looked at John's baptism last week. It was a "baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Lk 3:3). We said John's baptism was similar to the baptisms prescribed by Moses in the Law. Remember the baptisms prescribed by Moses? Any who touched the carcass of an animal that walked on paws was considered unclean and needed washing. Any who touched a rat or a lizard was considered unclean and needed washing. Gentiles who wanted to convert to the Jewish faith were considered unclean and needed washing too.
Crowds of Jews came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. By being baptized they were admitting they were unclean just like those who touched a rat or a lizard. By being baptized they were admitting they were unclean just like Gentiles.
None of them were turned away by John. He baptized ordinary Jews. He baptized tax collectors. He baptized Gentile soldiers. All of them repented of their sin. All of them admitted their sin. All of them showed godly sorrow for their sin. All of them prayed for forgiveness. All of them were willing to turn from their sin. All of them showed the fruit of repentance. All of them wanted to escape the coming wrath of God. John accepted the repentance of each and every one of these people and baptized them.
II John Baptized Jesus
According to Scripture, there was only one baptism John did want to do. There was only one repentance that John did not want to accept. I am talking about the baptism and repentance of Jesus. This is how Matthew puts it:
(Mt 3:13-14) Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. (14) But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"John tried to deter Jesus. Hinder. Prevent. Forbid. John did not want to baptize Jesus. John did not want to accept Jesus' repentance.
Why? Because the Holy Spirit led John to realize that Jesus was perfect, sinless, holy. Because the Holy Spirit led John to realize Jesus did not need the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John's baptism, remember, is for sinners. John's baptism, remember, is for those who need washing. John's baptism, remember, is for those who are unclean. John's baptism, remember, is for those trying to escape the coming wrath of God. John considered himself to be unclean, but not Jesus. "I need to be baptized by you," he said to Jesus.
The crowds were unclean. The tax collectors were unclean. The soldiers were unclean. John was unclean. But Jesus was not unclean because He was holy, perfect, sinless.
Yet, look at what Scripture tells us: "When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too" (Lk 3:21).
On this Lord's Supper Sunday I want to ask why a sinless Jesus received a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
III John had to Baptize Jesus (1)
A Sunday School pictures and Story Bibles make Jesus' baptism look so peaceful and pastoral. We see the calm waters of the River Jordan, we see a dove, we see Jesus and John the Baptist in the river, we see a crowd of people waiting on the shore. But there is more to Jesus' baptism than what first meets the eye.
Jesus' baptism was not accidental. Jesus did not bump into John one day while on an innocent stroll along the banks of the Jordan River. Matthew's gospel tells us that John was preaching in the Desert of Judea (Mt 3:1) and baptizing in the Jordan River (Mt 3:6,13). Which means he was somewhere in the vicinity of Jericho. As for Jesus, He "came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John" (Mt 3:13). This was a three to five-day walking trip of some 70 miles. So, Jesus went out of His way to be baptized by John.
So what was going on? According to Matthew's account, when John protested about doing Jesus' baptism, Jesus replied,
(Mt 3:15) "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this ..." Then John consented.What was Jesus saying? "John," He said, "I have a mission to perform and my baptism is part of that mission." Once John heard this, he had no choice but to baptize Jesus.
B According to Matthew, Jesus was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness." What does this mean? First, this means Jesus took the place of sinners. That's why Jesus was baptized by John just like the crowds. That's why Jesus was baptized by John just like the tax collectors. That's why Jesus was baptized by John just like the soldiers. Jesus put Himself in the place of sinners. Jesus put Himself in the place of all the unclean. Jesus identified with sinners. Jesus repented with sinners.
On this Lord's Supper Sunday we are being told that Jesus identifies Himself with you and me as well. In the River Jordan He took your place and my place. In the River Jordan He was baptized as if He were you or me. In the River Jordan He Who was sinless acted as a sinner.
C Jesus was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness." Second, this means Jesus experienced the penalty of the law. The penalty of the law demands that sinners die. You all should know that baptism is a picture of dying. Therefore, when Jesus went down into the Jordan, He figuratively sank deep into death.
On this Lord's Supper Sunday we see that Jesus experiences the curse which lay on you and me. We see that Jesus is the Lamb of God. Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes the sinner's place. Jesus is the Lamb of God Who took on our sin, our guilt, and our shame. Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes our place before an angry God. Jesus is the Lamb of God Who is punished in your place and my place. Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.
D Jesus was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness." Third, this means Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law. The law demands righteousness. You should all know that baptism is a picture of new life and righteousness. In His baptism, Jesus not only went down into the Jordan but came up to receive the Spirit. He not only showed the death of the old man of sin but also the coming to life of the new man of righteousness.
On this Lord's Supper Sunday we see that Jesus is the Righteous One. What can we say about the righteousness of Christ? He lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father. He loved God above all and His neighbor as Himself. He never took God's name in vain. He perfectly obeyed and honored his father and mother. He never committed adultery in thought or deed. He showed only love to those around Him. He shared with the needy. He was perfect in every way. By the grace of God, His righteousness is transferred to us so we who believe are seen as holy and pure in God's sight.
IV John had to Baptize Jesus (2)
A On this Lord's Supper Sunday we see that all three persons of the Trinity are present at Jesus' baptism. Jesus is praying to the Father. The Father spoke from heaven. And, the Holy Spirit visibly descended on Jesus in bodily form like a dove. Those, like the Mormons and JWs, who deny the Trinity have a difficult time explaining this event.
Furthermore, in Jesus' baptism we see there exists a perfect communion between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus freely descends into the Jordan in the place of the sinner. The Father Who sent Him speaks His approval. And the Spirit Who equips Jesus for ministry descends upon Him. God is not three but one when it comes to His will and purpose there at the River Jordan. All three persons of the triune godhead were on the same page when it came to the baptism of the Son. This tells us that in the Divine plan Jesus had to be baptized.
B As Jesus was praying, heaven was opened and the voice of the Father was heard. When we look through the Bible we see that the Father rarely speaks from heaven. In the Old Testament He spoke from heaven at Mt. Sinai. In the New Testament He spoke from heaven at Jesus' baptism; He spoke from heaven at Jesus' transfiguration (Lk 9:28-36); and, He spoke from heaven just before the events leading up to the cross (Jn 12:28). In the Old Testament the Father rarely spoke from heaven because normally He revealed Himself to His servants the prophets through dreams and visions. In the New Testament the Father rarely spoke from heaven because normally He revealed Himself through Jesus in the flesh or through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
God spoke from heaven. This is something rare. This is something unusual. So we must take careful note. What does the Father say? He identifies Jesus as the Son. He identifies Jesus as the Son He loves. He identifies Jesus as the Son with Whom He is well pleased. He does so after Jesus took the place of sinners. He does this after Jesus underwent a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He does this after Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. Telling us what? Telling us the Father is pleased that Jesus did what He did. It pleased the Father that Jesus underwent John's baptism. It pleased the Father because this was the Father's will so you and I could be freed from the coming wrath.
Jesus took the place of sinners. He died for us and arose for us. Jesus took the place of sinners according to the plan of God. Truly, He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. That's the message we hear this Lord's Supper Sunday.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page