And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
For thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. The term "righteousness" here plainly means the lawful claims of the authority to which, at a given time, we are subject. It may be the Mosaic Law. It may be the Christian law. But the point of our Lord's answer is really this: "The Messianic lair is not yet come in; it is not yet established; I am still under the Mosaic Law; that requires my obedience to the Jehovah-prophets who may be raised up; I have no right to make laws for myself. I must obey the Law I know until that Law is evidently set aside for another." It is the answer of the truly loyal Jew, of the man who personally feared God, and meant to show his fear by a simple, unquestioning, persistent obedience.
I. THE CLAIMS OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WE KNOW. Every man must be judged in the light of his response to those claims. A man cannot be judged in the light of a righteousness that somebody else knows, or that he may get to know some day. He is responsible if he might have known of a higher righteousness, and made no effort to use his opportunity. From a later standpoint it would have been fitter for Jesus to baptize John; but from that standpoint it was the right thing for John to baptize Jesus. What is our idea of right to-day? And what is our conduct regarded as a response to our idea?
II. THE CLAIMS OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WE MAY COME TO KNOW. For the standard of righteousness can improve; it does change. Our Lord distinctly apprehended stages in the conception of righteousness when he said, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees." And the old standard ceases to be our standard when we have gained a new and a better. Illustrate by the disciples found who had only reached to John's baptism. St. Paul instructed them in the more perfect way, and they were baptized in the Name of Christ. So elevation of the standard of righteousness brings serious increase of personal responsibility. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.