Sunday, January 12, 2014

When God is pleased

Dove descending on Jesus at His baptism - Artist unknown
Dove descending on Jesus at baptism - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 3:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" Matthew 3:17

When people come to John to be baptized it is in repentance. Repentance implies they have done something wrong from which they need to turn. Jesus, however, is sinless. He doesn't need to repent, so why does He need to be baptized?

John objects when Jesus asks him for baptism: "I need to be baptized by You," he says - Matthew 3:14.

But Jesus counters with "'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness'" (Matthew 3:15). What does He mean by "fulfill all righteousness"?

Matthew Henry in his commentary on this verse says He "fulfills all righteousness" in two main ways:

1] It shows His grace.
"There was a propriety in ever thing that Christ did for us; it was all graceful (Hebrews 2:10; 7:26); and we must study to do not only that which behooves us but that which becomes us" (in plain words, do not only what is required but what is fittingly attractive).

2] It shows His ownership of the divine institution of baptism.
The Old Testament law contains many washing ceremonies. Matthew Henry: "Thus Christ filled up the righteousness of the ceremonial law which consisted of divers washings; thus He recommended the gospel ordinance of baptism to His church."

The beauty of Jesus' obedience, humility, and graciousness is enhanced by what follows. In a burst of unusual demonstrativeness heaven breaks through. The Holy Spirit descends as a dove on Jesus and God the Father calls in a thunderous voice that echoes through the Jordan's hills (or I imagine hills—like the hills that surround the Saskatchewan River where I was baptized): "'This is My believed Son in whom I am well pleased.'" If there is any doubt in Jesus' mind that He is doing the right thing, it is now dispelled.

I submit that this is sometimes how God deals with us too. We have a choice. We consider the options and take the course of obedience. Often, at the moment we cast the die, there is no emotion to confirm us in our decision. But later, perhaps with a sense of surprise, we feel the divine smile, the warm, approving benediction. For our love for God and our obedience to Him are of one piece and prove that we are His (John 15:23-26).

Henry says of God the Father's declaration and us: "See how ready He is to own us in Him: He is my beloved Son not only with whom but in whom I am well pleased. He is pleased with all that are in Him and are united to Him by faith" -  Matthew Henry's Commentary on Matthew 3.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this intimate glimpse into the relationship of the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thank You for Jesus' example  and willingness to "fulfill all righteousness" in this humble way. Please help me to be as obedient. Amen. 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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1 comment:

  1. So good to know that Father God sees the righteousness of Jesus when we are in Christ.


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