Matthew 3:13-17Amplified Bible
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan [River], to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him [vigorously protesting], saying, “It is I who need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus replied to him, “Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for us [a]to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John permitted [it and baptized] Him. 16 After Jesus was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he (John) saw the [b]Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him (Jesus), 17 and behold, a [c]voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!”
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Each Baptism brings a special Joy.
This morning, our Pastor is dedicating an infant
This morning at the Pentecostal Church of which my wife and I are members, is baptizing seven individuals by complete immersion – so it is going to be a truly joyous and an exceptionally special time of magnifying our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The dedication of an infant as Christ was dedicated at the Temple.
Seven people placing Jesus Christ into the direct center of their lives.
Oh, what a day of rejoicing and celebration it will certainly be for many.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!
There are many days when I consider my own baptism and its deeper meaning.
It is a complicated subject for me because my faith upbringing is a complicated one – born into the Church of the Brethren and I believe baptized as an infant.
Converted to the Jewish faith when I was 8 years old – Mikvah at 9 years old.
Came back to the Methodist Church at 41 years old, “conditionally baptized” by the sprinkling of water over my head.
Now, a member of the Pentecostal Church which does not baptize infants and baptizes with full immersion as Jesus was in Matthew Chapter Three.
I have considered being baptized by immersion in the Pentecostal Church.
But I am not sure of the theology – One God! One Baptism is how I was taught.
I am not sure that being Baptized in the Pentecostal Church would not be taking God’s Grace for granted – as God said,
“Thou shalt not test me as you did at the Waters of Meribah ……” which cost Moses dearly – being able to look at the “promised land” FROM A DISTANCE! and NOT BEING ABLE TO ENTER IT!
So, I am in kind of a quandary – seeking scriptural guidance and my Pastors.
And today, with the joy of the Holy Spirit before me and 7 baptisms about to unfold before me today at worship …. I am pondering “my Baptism” again.
Untold thousands of churches around the world consider the story of Jesus’ baptism every year.
That helps people reflect on their own baptism.
Maybe you were baptized because of your own decision.
Or maybe your parents presented you for baptism.
What might change if we thought of baptism as the defining reality of our life?
What does the Bible teach about water baptism?
• Is it necessary for salvation?
• Who’s it for?
• Is it optional?
• How important is it?
• What does it mean?
• Is any mode of baptism, whether sprinkling, pouring or full immersion, acceptable?
I’ll seek to answer each of these questions today from our only authority—the Bible.
Let’s explore six truths about baptism, each beginning with an “I” to remember more easily.
I. FIRST, I WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE – BAPTISM IS INSUFFICIENT
What I mean is that water baptism is insufficient to save you from sin.
Baptism does not impart to us any grace, merit, or goodness before a holy God.
It does not take away original sin.
Jesus was the perfect Son of God who never sinned, so He certainly did not need salvation from sin, but in our text, we see that He came to John to be baptized.
The Bible is very clear that the only way to be saved is by believing in Jesus for our salvation, not by anything WE do, even if it’s religious in nature.
There are only three verses in the Bible that SEEM to imply that baptism is necessary for salvation, but a closer examination of the context and the original language clears up every one of them, as any good commentary will do.
On the other hand, there are scores, if not hundreds, of Bible verses that teach in unequivocal terms salvation is obtained by faith in Jesus for your salvation.
If baptism were necessary for salvation, Jesus and these writers of Scripture would have been grossly negligent to say that we’re saved by believing in Jesus Christ for our salvation without mentioning the co-condition of baptism!
Add to this the fact that the thief on the cross simply BELIEVED in Jesus, but obviously had not been baptized—yet a dying Jesus assured him that by his believing on Him: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).
And what do we do with John 4:2, where John tells us that “…Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples.” or 1 Corinthians 1:17, where Paul says, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…”
– If baptism were a condition of salvation, is it even remotely conceivable that Jesus and Paul would have delegated this soul-saving responsibility to others?
—I do not believe it would be so.
Obviously, as important as baptism is, it is INSUFFICIENT to save.
II. SECOND, EXPLORING THAT BAPTISM IS ILLUSTRATIVE –
In Romans 6:3-4, Paul says, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
In New Testament days, symbols were very important.
Christ instituted two ordinances for the church to follow, and both of them are extremely and visually rich symbols expressing the core truths of God’s Gospel.
1. One was communion, or the Lord’s Supper.
We are all familiar with the fact that the bread is symbolic of Jesus’ body that was given for us, and the juice symbolizes the blood Jesus shed for our sins.
That is indeed, a potent and a powerful visual picture, isn’t it?
2. From Romans 6, Paul teaches that baptism pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, which Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 is what the Gospel is.
Now there’s only one mode of baptism that can symbolize death, burial and resurrection, and that’s immersion.
There are other reasons why we might come believe that only baptism by complete immersion is biblical water baptism:
1. First, the Greek word for baptize is ‘baptizō’ which literally means “to dip, submerge, plunge.”
Matthew 3:11 KJV …… 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
It was the word used by cloth sellers for dying cloth and fabrics.
They would COMPLETELY SUBMERGE the fabric into the dye.
The command to be baptized was literally a command to be SUBMERGED.
2. Another line of evidence is that in many instances of baptism in the Gospels and Acts, we are told that they went “DOWN INTO” the water to be baptized or that they “CAME UP OUT OF” the water after baptism.
–We see that in our text, Matthew 3, in verse 16: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water…”
–In the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:38, Luke says, “And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”
Question: Why go “down into” the water and have to “come out of” the water just to be sprinkled or poured on?
Wouldn’t it make more sense for the baptizer to get a bowl and enough water from the river and pour it over the head rather than having to go down into the water, dunk and get your clothes soaking wet just to be sprinkled or poured on?
3. Other evidence is the fact that the early church only practiced immersion, a fact admitted even by the Roman Catholic Church, Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin and many additional prominent Anglican scholars …… —
Baptism by immersion ILLUSTRATES something—the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior for our sins.
III. THIRD, I WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE THAT BAPTISM IS IDENTIFICATION
Historically baptism was how a person publicly IDENTIFIED himself with Christ and the core teachings of the Gospel.
Reverend Dr. M.R. DeHaan put it this way:
In the early days of the church…, baptism was a declaration that the believer was definitely identifying himself with that group of people who were called Christians and were despised and hated.
To be a Christian meant something. To identify yourself with those who were called Christians meant persecution, maybe death; it meant being ostracized from your family, shunned by friends.
And the one act, the final declaration of this identification was BAPTISM.
As long as a man gathered with Christians, he was tolerated, but when once he submitted to baptism, he declared to the world, I BELONG TO THIS DESPISED GROUP, and immediately he was persecuted, hated, and despised.
In baptism, therefore, the believer entered into the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. A person might be a believer and keep it strictly a secret and thus they avoid unpleasantness and suffering, but once he submitted to public baptism, he had burned his bridges behind him. . .”
When we are baptized, we are publicly confessing our allegiance to Christ.
Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32)
By identifying with Christ and God’s Gospel message of His death, burial and resurrection, we are, most decisively, publicly, taking our stand with Christ.
You and I are saying, “I belong to Christ and I’m signifying so with the symbol of baptism,” much the same way a person who wears their wedding ring does.
When I wear my wedding ring, I’m saying to everyone out there, “I belong to someone, and I am not in the very least bit ashamed to let everyone know it.”
The person being baptized is saying the same thing: He’s saying,
“I belong to Jesus Christ, and I am never ashamed to let everyone know it.”
IV. I WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE THAT BAPTISM IS INTENTIONAL
Every instance is a person being baptized AFTER his salvation—choosing intentionally to obey Christ’s command of his own free will to be baptized.
Acts 16:28-31 Amplified
28 But Paul shouted, saying, “Do not hurt yourself, we are all here!” 29 Then the jailer called for torches and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out [of the inner prison], he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
The Jailer Converted
31 And they answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus [as your personal Savior and entrust yourself to Him] and you will be saved, you and your household [if they also believe].”
In this passage, the Philippian jailor asked Paul and Barnabas in verse 30, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul didn’t miss a beat and his answer was simple in verse 31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
Paul didn’t mean that if this jailor trusted in Christ, his whole household would be saved by proxy, but if he and his household would be saved, they must each [intentionally] believe on [that is, “rely on” or “trust in”] the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then verse 32 says, “And they spoke unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
Why would this be emphasized?
To show that the household heard the Gospel so, with intent, they could believe.
Verse 33 continues: “And he took them [with intent] the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”
Nope—Luke lays the matter to rest once and for all in verse 34 where he says:
“And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”
Did we get that? —He and all his house BELIEVED!
Lest you’re unsure that’s what Luke meant, the Greek scholar, A.T. Robertson, says this ……
“The whole household (family, warden, slaves) heard the word of the Lord, believed in the Lord Jesus Christ…and were baptized, and rejoiced.”
Baptism is for believers, and since he and everyone in his house BELIEVED, they were acceptable candidates for baptism.
V. FIFTH, I WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE THAT BAPTISM IS IMITATION
Matthew 3:14-15 Amplified
14 But John tried to prevent Him [vigorously protesting], saying, “It is I who need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus replied to him, “Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for us [a]to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John permitted [it and baptized] Him.
Our text tells us that Jesus was baptized.
He explained the reason in verse 15 – “…to fulfill all righteousness.”
By being baptized, we are doing something righteous because God has now commanded it.
Jesus wanted to set an example for us because He always did what was righteous.
In 1 Peter 2:21 Peter said, “For even hereunto were ye called…that ye should follow his steps.”
Jesus commanded all believers to be baptized in Matthew 28:19, and He was always obedient to the Father.
You should follow His example by obeying His command to be baptized.
VI. LASTLY, PLEASE NOTE THAT BAPTISM IS IMPORTANT
In verse 13 of our text, we read something significant, where Matthew says,
“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.”
Mark’s Gospel tells us that the city in Galilee Jesus came from was Nazareth.
A quick look at a map shows that Jesus walked 60 miles ON FOOT to be baptized.
It must have been very important to Him, and it should likewise be for us.
Being baptized is important because we’re COMMANDED to be baptized.
JESUS commanded us to be baptized once we have believed.
Well, do we need any other reason than that?
It’s a serious thing to intentionally disobey the Lord’s commands.
The APOSTLES also commanded baptism.
In our modernized, “comfort zone Christianity,” believers tend to take God’s commandments too lightly, and that’s increasingly true of believers’ baptism.
But where Christianity shines brightest and strongest, the opposite is true.
As Chuck Colson points out in his book, The Body: Being Light in Darkness:
“Most Westerners take baptism for granted, but for many in the world the act requires immense courage. Countries like Nepal, it once meant imprisonment. For Soviet or Chinese or Eastern bloc believers, it was like putting their own signatures to their own death warrant.” (The Body: Being Light in Darkness by Charles Colson and Ellen Santilli Vaughn, 1992, Word Publishing, page 137.)
Folks, obeying the Lord in believer’s baptism is IMPORTANT!
Search the book of Acts—the history book of the first century church—and you’ll find one consistent pattern
—believers uniformly followed the Lord in believer’s baptism.
It was so important in the early church, that even those who had already been baptized under John the Baptist’s baptism were re-baptized in Jesus’ name to publicly declare their maximum allegiance to Jesus Christ and their maximum expression of their complete faith in His life, death, burial and resurrection.
It was so important in the book of Acts believers didn’t go through discipleship classes before submitting to baptism or wait to make sure they were “ready.”
Every instance of baptism in Acts was IMMEDIATELY after they believed in Christ for salvation.
If we have placed our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation and have the assurance that we are saved, we don’t need to understand fully its meaning, or wait till you feel worthy, or feel you have to prepare in some way.
If you and I have an obedient heart to your Lord, you and I will intentionally obey His command and to follow His example and be baptized without delay.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Dear heavenly Father, we give you thanks and praise that in your mercy you brought us to baptism, and there gave us Jesus’ holiness in exchange for our sin and impurity. Thank you for our parents who brought us up in the faith and to our baptism, thank you for those other people whom you used to bring us the complete Gospel truth, and thank you for our pastors and teachers in the faith.
We pray for the baptized people of God, that we may hang on to the fullness of your promises in true faith, especially when we experience the wilderness of sin and the evil within, and temptations and trials from outside. I Pray, strengthen us with your Holy Spirit so that our Savior Jesus’ victory may be our victory. Alleluia! Amen!