Second Sunday in Advent – Preparation
Matthew 3:13-17/ Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be batpized by you and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.
We are in the second Sunday of Advent where we focus on the baptism of Jesus.
Sometimes we aren’t sure if “now” is the right time for things. At the Jordan River, about 30 years after Jesus was born, now was the time. If you could go back and stand on the shoreline of that river in the wilderness, you would be nodding your head in agreement, “Yes, now is the time!” But, Time for what? It is time for Jesus to be baptized. He hadn’t been baptized as an infant as many times we see in our worship services. His baptism was different. He was baptized for a totally different reason than our reason for baptizing.
Let’s take a step back and look at baptism. This is how we prepare for Christ’s arrival. Preparation!! I want you to first imagine you are standing on the banks of Jordan River, and you see Jesus step into the water. He’s saying, “Now is the time!” It’s time for two things: FIRST. For Jesus to step in line with sinners; and SECOND for the Father to state a line of acceptance.
Let’s look at the first reason for the Baptism of Jesus which was for Jesus to step in line with sinners.
John the Baptizer was at the height of his preaching and baptizing ministry. The popularity polls had him ranked extremely high. In Matthew’s gospel account we read that John had lashed out at the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jerusalem for being hypocritical. These two groups didn’t really think they needed to be baptized, but were just following the crowd to do the popular thing.
Now picture this in your mind, then along comes Jesus to be baptized. “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” You can almost see John putting out his hands to Jesus saying, “Wait, wait! You don’t need me to baptize you. You should baptize me.”
It’s like if the Dallas or New York Symphony Orchestra would say to you, “Would you play us a number so that we might have some soothing music to which we can listen.” You would say, “Wait a minute! You should play for me. You’re the professionals. You don’t want to hear me.” Or it would be like the former and famous quarterback Troy Aikman saying to you, “Would you throw me some passes so I can catch some footballs from your golden arm.” You would say, “Wait a minute! You’re the many-time Most Valuable Player and led your team to several Super Bowls. You should throw to me and show me how to throw!”
In the same way, John recognized Jesus as one who didn’t need repentance or forgiveness in baptism. John knew that Jesus was much greater than he was, and that he wasn’t even fit to clean Jesus’s sandals. And now Jesus wants to be baptized by him? John’s thinking, “This is backwards! This shouldn’t be happening this way!”
But listen to Jesus’ response, “‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’” Then John consented”. Jesus was saying, “At another time, John, you would be right in what you’re thinking. But NOW is the time for this baptism. Let it be so NOW.” The question most people come up with is, “Why did Jesus need to be baptized?” It was not that Jesus needed to get his sins washed away. He was sinless. I am always fascinated by this story of the baptism of Jesus. It is one of the few stories that is contained in all four gospels. I’m fascinated by this story because it is so hard to understand. If baptism is about forgiveness and the washing away of sin, then why was a sinless Jesus in need of baptism? The answer lies in the fact that forgiveness of sin is one of many elements that we take on in baptism.
We cannot forget that death is a key component of baptism. When we are baptized, we are baptized into Christ’s death. We die to the world that we may be alive to the Kingdom of God. Baptism is as much about the symbol of death as it is forgiveness.
We also can’t forget that adoption is a key component of baptism as well. In baptism, we are claimed by God as God’s own and we are sealed with the sign of the cross. Baptism is as much a symbol of adoption as it is of forgiveness.
And in the baptism of our Lord, all those gathered around that day at the Jordan were hearers of the voice from heaven exclaiming, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” In baptism, we too are made to be like children of God in that we are sealed for this purpose. Even Jesus was baptized—this should give us an indication of the importance of baptism in the life of a Christian. It is this purpose that caused Jesus to submit to baptism.
Jesus did it because it was what His Father in heaven wanted him to do. It was showing that NOW at the age of 30 He was going to carry out his public ministry. It was NOW that He began the course of work that would take Him to the cross. It was NOW that He began the public mission of being the sin-bearer of the entire world. The time was Now for Jesus to step in line with sinners. Just like we hear in 2 Corinthians 5: 21, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Now was the time for Jesus to publicly step in line with all sinners and count himself as one of them, though He had done nothing to be in that line.
Take a look at what Jesus did. ALL sinners, that means you and me, are lined up waiting to stand before a Holy God. I’m going to have to answer to Him and await His punishment for every time I was jealous over Christmas presents, every time my thoughts thought of repulsive things, every time I failed to have that Holy Creator be the most important person in my life. But then Jesus jumps in line right to the front by His baptism and death. He’s going to be first to meet this Judge. He isn’t going to let us bear that burden, because He has already paid that sin debt for us.
Now let’s look at the second part: For the Father to state a line of acceptance.
When a sport’s star or famous actor/actress makes a deal with a new company, we are not usually told every minute detail of the contract negotiations, only that “an offer has been accepted.” The same thing happened at the Baptism of Jesus. We do not know the exact “negotiations” that went on between Jesus and the Heavenly Father, only that Jesus had slid himself into our place and offered Himself to our heavenly Father. At Jesus’ baptism, “NOW is the time, for the Father to state a line of acceptance.” You can see and hear the Father say with, of course, a big smile, “I accept your offer.” He states a line…. It’s a line of acceptance, “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased.”
Look at how God further put forth His sign of acceptance. He did this in two ways. First of all, God the Holy Spirit, looking like a dove came down upon Jesus. It reminds us of Isaiah 42:1, “I will put my Spirit on him.” The Father’s line of acceptance included sending the Holy Spirit to bring power to Jesus to carry out His task of standing in the line of perfectness and punishment for sinners. But I want you to notice that Jesus was human too. He needed the Holy Spirit to give him that energy boost to carry out this big task.
God wasn’t ashamed that his Son came down from his heavenly throne for sinners. He was elated that his Son was willing to take their (our) place even to the point of sacrificing His own life. Now was the time for God to say at Jesus’ baptism, “Outstanding, Son!”
Now was the time for God to state His line of acceptance of His own Son. Look at what that means for you. It now means that God accepts you. Because of what Jesus did with His perfect life, the grueling death, and His victorious rising from the dead, God accepts you. With a big smile God says, “I accept the offer. You can be near me forever.” When we see Jesus’ baptism and remember our own baptism, “Now is the time.” Now is the time to rejoice over the Father stating His line of accepting our substitute. If you have any doubts about the love, God has for you and how He has accepted you with all your misgivings, sins, faith/lack of faith and trust, STOP! Remember the scripture, John 3:16. Say it to yourself and be thankful that God loves you that much.
All these events surrounding Jesus’ baptism were done so that you and I can confidently state, “NOW I KNOW that God accepts me.” Regardless of your past or your present or even your future, if you accept Jesus Christ as you Lord and Savior, and you repent of your sins (we must – daily), your future is sealed. Hold this to be true – you are the child of God. God loves you and welcomes you into the Heavenly Home of His. There you will share eternity with God the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
Know it and live it! Live it NOW! Be Prepared!