Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him.
The baptisms of Jesus at the Jordan were two, viz. that ministered by John and that ministered by the Holy Ghost. The former now claims attention. Jesus himself sought this baptism. Why?
I. WHY DID JESUS COME TO THE JORDAN?
1. That the Scripture might be fulfilled.
(1) At the Jordan God "began to magnify Joshua in the sight of all Israel," that he might be the successor of Moses (Joshua 3:7).
(2) Therein Joshua was a type of Jesus. Jesus and his gospel replace Moses and his Law. How fitting, then, that Jesus should be authenticated at the same Jordan!
3. Both authentications took place at the same spot. John baptized at Bethabara (John 1:28). This place had its name, the "House of passage," from the passage of Israel under Joshua through the Jordan there. What a tissue of wonders is the providence of God!
2. That the mission of Jesus might be indicated.
(1) How expressive is the language of signs! To have described the mission of Jesus in words would have been to have written the Gospels by anticipation. This is done in prophecy. We see it in the typical history of Joshua. The sign of the baptism at Bethabara calls attention to this.
(2) In it we see that, as Joshua became the successor of Moses there, so now Jesus comes to abolish the Law and to introduce the better hope of his gospel.
(3) Further, that as Moses died in the wilderness and left the people there, so the Law can bring us into its entanglements and terrify us with trumpet-blasts and thunders, but is powerless to bring us out. But as Joshua brought the people out, so can Jesus do by his gospel what the Law never could effect.
(4) Also that as Joshua became a captain over Israel to fight their battles, vanquish giants, and settle them in Canaan, so is Jesus become "the Captain of our salvation."
II. WHY DID JESUS COME TO JOHN?
1. John himself was astonished at this.
(1) Jesus was personally , immeasurably. John's superior. John, though amongst the greatest of men, was but a man. Jesus was Immanuel. He was that "Jehovah" of whom John was but the herald.
(2) Jesus was officially, unanswerably, John's superior. John baptized with "water." Jesus, with the "Holy Ghost."
(3) But how did John discover this? Previously, he only knew that Messiah had arrived (see John 1:31-33). He was a prophet, and saw as a seer (cf. 1 Samuel 9:15, 17; Luke 1:15; Luke 2:26). We see Jesus unto salvation when God opens the eyes of the soul.
(4) John had need of the baptism of Jesus. No man is so great as to be independent of him. The purest are most sensible of their remaining impurity, and seek the more earnestly the spiritual washing.
(5) But what need had Jesus of the baptism of John? It was the "baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Jesus had no sins to confess. Therefore he "went up straightway from the water."
2. He came to fulfil all righteousness.
(1) The dispensation of John was "from heaven" as truly as was that of Moses (cf. Mark 11:30, 31; 1 Corinthians 10:2). It was therefore as necessary that Jesus should respect it as that he should fulfil the Law of Moses.
(2) In this, as in other things, Jesus is our Exemplar; and he teaches us to yield exact obedience to positive precepts. Questionings of reason that would make us hesitate must have no place. And as the baptism of the Spirit followed, we are taught to expect special blessing Upon such obedience.
(3) Jesus submitted to the baptism of John as our Surety; and he shows us that he took our sin upon him that he might wash it away. And the voice of Divine approbation which followed assures us of the effectual manner in which he did this for us. So listen to that voice that it may carry the heavenly witness to your heart. Through Jesus becoming Righteousness we may become righteous. Hence the plural, "Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."
(4) "John forbade" Jesus, as Peter did when Jesus offered to wash his feet (John 13:6-8; cf. Luke 1:43). "Suffer it to be so now." No pretence of humility must induce us to neglect a duty.
III. WHY DID JESUS COME "THEN"?
1. He was then of the legal age to enter upon his ministry.
(1) (Cf. Numbers 4:3; Luke 3:28.)
(2) John had commenced his ministry six months earlier; for there was that difference of age. God has an order as well as a law. Both should be respected.
2. The juncture was fitting.
(1) It was while John was in the midst of his ministry. He had already spent six months of it, and within another similar term that ministry was closed. As Moses the Levite testified to Joshua, and passed away; so John the Levite - a representative of Moses - testified to Jesus, and passed away. The end of every holy ministry is to testify to Christ.
(2) John's reputation as a prophet was established. His testimony was conclusive (see Mark 11:29-32). Our influence, at its best, should testify to Christ.
(3) Joshua prepared for the passage of the Jordan three days before that passage was effected. This testimony at the Jordan was three years before Jesus crossed the Jordan of death. He was in his passage through that river in judgment "three days." The baptism of Jesus at the Jordan, that river being viewed as an emblem of death, gives emphasis and illustration to those words of Paul, "Are ye ignorant that all ye who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" (Romans 6:3). It is through the death of Christ that we live. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.