Matthew 3:13
This is a narrative which authenticates itself. No Christian writer of a later generation would have invented a story of the baptism of Jesus by John; nor could any current ideas have started a myth in this form. The very difficulties of the story prove its historicity.

I. LET US INQUIRE WHAT WAS THE MEANING OF THE BAPTISM OF JESUS.

1. Note some errors to be avoided.

(1) This was not a baptism of repentance. John saw that, and although lie did not yet know who Jesus was, the pure and spotless life of his mysterious Relative was evidently not unknown to him. He saw that Jesus did. not need the baptism as it was commonly understood.

(2) This was not a mere form. Christ continually contended against the hypocrisy of formalism. He could not have begun his public life with a purely formal action.

(3) This was not only intended as an example for others. In that case the action of Christ would have been simply a theatrical performance, unworthy of him, not to be countenanced by the serious Baptist. Moreover, the results of the baptism show that it had to do directly with the Person and work of Christ.

2. Consider the truths of the incident. Baptism has a double meaning. It looks forward as well as backward. As a rite in regard to the future it is a dedication, an act of self-consecration. Jesus had no sins of the past to wash out; but there was a great future to which he would dedicate himself in baptism. Then he was a Man, and he was humbling himself to the whole round of human duties. It was not in accordance with his mission that he should abandon the religious duties of his day. On the contrary, it was incumbent on him to "fulfil all righteousness" in connection with them. Thus the method of his self-consecration was an act of lowly obedience in connection with the deepest religious movement of the time.

II. LET US LOOK AT THE RESULTS OF THE BAPTISM OF JESUS. There were a vision and a voice.

1. The vision.

(1) The heavens opened. Self-surrender brings us near to God. The heavens open over the head of the utterly unselfish and truly consecrated man.

(2) The descending Spirit. The Spirit comes to Christ, and is in him without measure (John 3:34). The form was symbolical, but the fact was real. After this Christ displayed powers in miracle-working and teaching which he had never shown before. If Jesus needed this endowment of the Spirit, much more do we need it.

(3) The form of the dove. This is very significant. The Spirit takes many forms. On Jesus it appears in love and gentleness. "A bruised reed shall he not break." This form of the manifestation is peculiarly true to the nature of the Spirit. God is most of all present in "the still, small voice." By his gentleness he makes us great (Psalm 18:35).

2. The voice. The vision was especially for Christ's benefit. The evangelist says that "he saw the Spirit of God," etc., as though the people did not see the dove descending. John also saw the vision (John 1:32), and probably no one else. But the voice is not thus restricted. The spiritual grace is personal, for Christ himself; the revelation of the Son of God is for all who have ears to hear. - W.F.A.







Baptized of him.
I. The circumstance of TITLE.

1. Seasonable. Men were at this time being baptized and confessing their sins. People were expecting the Christ (John 1:19). Let man be diminished, but let God arise. The truth is revealed that the servant may not rob the Master of His honour.

2. This adverb of time points to the age of Christ. Mature age. He taught the need of well-seasoned timber to make pillars for the Church of God. As Christ attained perfect age in nature, His servants should be perfect in grace and glory.

II. After WHAT MANNER HE WOULD BE BAPTIZED.

1. Upon what ground did John begin this new ceremony: It betokened the end of the old ceremonies. Superstitions turned into a blessing. Heathen used washings. Turned into an immortal laver.

2. The dignity of John's baptism. It was the baptism of repentance. It did not lack grace. But Christ's ministry is better than man's.Distinctions between the two baptisms.

1. John baptized in the name of the Messiah. Christ bade His disciples use another form.

2. They differ in extent — John baptized in the regions of Judaea, Christ bade His disciples to except none.

3. Christ's baptism transcends John's in the variety of persons.

4. Christ's baptism is more operative since He has gone to His Father.

5. John's baptism was good, Christ's is necessary to the end of the world.

(Hacket.)

1. John was jealous of our Saviour's honour.

2. He confesses his vileness and inferiority.

(Hacket.)Faith is nothing else but a long-continued astonishment, which knows not how to utter itself, because the Lord hath done such marvellous things for us.

(Hacket.)

What so Divine an instigation to press us all to come unto the flood of living waters, to thirst for that immortal spring of grace than this, that the Son of God Himself did not decline to be partaker of the baptism of repentance. To make the sacrament virtuous and powerful for them that should take it after Him. That by His example, to undergo a new rite and ordinance, men might be drawn from old customs to newness of life.

(Hacket.)

As Caesar did not lessen his own dignity, because he would both command as General, and yet work in the trenches like the meanest pioneer, Dux confilio, miles exemplo; and as Helen, the mother of Constantine, was not under the honour of a princess, because she would dress the blains and ulcers of poor cripples in the hospital; so the mighty Son of God was not diminished in His glory, because He put Himself into the rank of abject ones by His own yielding and accord, not by compulsive necessity.

(Hacket.)

I. We should sincerely FEEL THE WANT OF A DIVINE REDEEMER. When Jesus demands baptism of John, the latter -publicly declares: "I have need to be baptized of Thee."

II. WE SHOULD ACKNOWLEDGE THE WISE COUNSELS OF GOD.

III. WE SHOULD ADMIRE THE GRANDEUR AND MAJESTY WITH WHICH JESUS WAS ENCOMPASSED. "We beheld our Saviour encompassed by a glory which transcends the most enchanting pageantry of nature.

(From the Danish of Dr. Balle.)

Sermons by the Monday Club.
I. The office of John was to awaken the conscience of mankind.

II. John had a ministry of separation.

III. John was a forerunner in pointing to Christ.

IV. John was to identify Christ.

(Sermons by the Monday Club.)

Sermons by the Monday Club.
We can only allude to meanings which have been discovered in it; all of them, it may be, parts of its largest import. It "was to ratify the mission of John; it was to purify the water of baptism. Christ .was ceremonially unclean, as representing sinners. St. Bernard sees in the baptism the exhibition of perfect humility; and Meyer, of perfect obedience. Still others look upon the baptism as an inaugural announcement, a formal identification, of His Person as the Messiah — an inauguration of His Messianic ministry. It is important to notice certain respects in which the baptism was unlike that of the people.

1. It was at the close of the day. He waited until all the penitents of that day had been baptized; in this, as in all else involving sin, separate from sinners.

2. John did not treat Christ as a sinner. He gave Him the remarkable testimony, "I have need to be baptized of Thee."

3. At Jesus' baptism there was no confession of sin. In the place of confession was a prayer.

4. The promised token, the descent of the Spirit as a dove, which abode upon Him, while a voice from heaven said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

(Sermons by the Monday Club.)

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