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Baptism of Jesus - John 1:29-34, Matt 3:13-17

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[read  John 1:29-34 – note this is flashback, Matt 3:13-17 – note this is telling of the actual event; pray]

Jesus Year One sermon series – look at Jesus’ first year of public ministry. Basically sermon series through first five chapters of John, with small detour to gospel of Matthew today, bigger detour to Matthew next Sunday.

John one gospel writer gives us details on Jesus’ first year. Shouldn’t bother us only get this from John.  None of gospel writers looked to write exhaustive account of Jesus’ life. Writers deliberately selective, choosing those things would be most helpful for respective audiences. For Matthew, Mark, and Luke, meant focusing primarily on Jesus’ birth and then his second and third year of public life.

John writes his gospel many years after other three, very likely he aware what in them, maybe even read them. For his audience and purposes, meant not so much on Jesus’ birth, more focus on the three years of public ministry, and in particularly times when he is dialogue with individuals or smaller groups.

First year of anything is important. Lot of what happens in first year establishes what happen later on. Laying foundation. First year of college. What kind of choices, decisions will make now that you no longer living with parents? What kind of study habits, friends make? First year of marriage, etc. First year in new place, etc.

Here then why look at Jesus’ first year of ministry, discover foundational fundamental aspects to Jesus. Jesus very popular today. Everybody believes in Jesus. Majority of political candidates say they believe in Jesus. Some would go so far as to say that Jesus is their Savior. But what does any of that mean? Do our candidates, or really any of us who’ve said similar things, know what that means? I will tell – we may use many of same words when we talk about Jesus, but mean something very different when we use those words.

This why must go back to beginning, to the foundation. What Jesus do when first came on scene? Why did he do it? As we explore all this together will hopefully give us full of understanding of what Jesus fundamentally about. Understanding these fundamentals should then help us understand what really means when you say that you “believe in Jesus.”

So how Jesus’ public ministry begin? As just heard, begins with Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist.

Basic details of baptism easy pick up from reading all of gospels. Jesus comes to John to be baptized. After John baptizes, as Jesus comes up out of the water, Holy Spirit comes on him like dove, God’s voice heard from heaven.

Details easy to see. It’s the why behind the details that are curious.  Why start public ministry with a baptism? Why would Jesus even do a baptism – if he’s the Son of God, it’s not like he needs to be baptized?

To answer these questions begin in John 1. As mentioned earlier, John’s account of Jesus’ baptism told in flashback. Baptism of Jesus has already happened and when we enter story John has run into Jesus again and takes advantage of this meeting to announce to everyone what happened when he baptized Jesus earlier.

What want point out here are two descriptions of Jesus given by John. Show us what Jesus and his ministry fundamentally about. And will ultimately help us see then what his baptism represents.

John 1:29 gives us our first description. John 1:29-34 - The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

[CLICK] Description #1: Jesus is God’s Lamb through whom sin is wiped away

Couple of different Old Testament ideas come to mind in that metaphor of “the lamb.” There is Exodus 29:38-42 where as part of daily temple worship was to be morning and evening sacrifice of a one year old lamb. Daily sacrifice necessary so Israel have relationship with God.

Also link to lamb used during yearly Passover celebration. Lamb sacrificed in remembrance of how God not judge Israelites but passed over their homes and instead judged the Egyptians, the lamb serving as sacrificial substitute for judgment should have also gotten.

And also link to servant prophecies of Isaiah 53, where read about servant of God to come who be like lamb led to slaughter for the sins of many.    

In all these previous sacrifices and rituals and prophecies are just preview, meant to point people ultimately to Jesus. Jesus fulfillment of all that come before and all that was anticipated. He is THE one true once for all Lamb of God. Jesus’ ministry on earth fundamentally about bringing people back to God in real and permanent way.

Reason this is possible is because through Jesus sin can now be taken away. All OT sacrifices were just temporary, a place holder you might say, until coming of Jesus. As the writer of Hebrews puts it in 10:4, “it’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

What was needed, what has always been needed, is Jesus. With Jesus sin totally removed. It is like dirt being wiped off windshield. Before Jesus, windshield of your life marked by dirt of past sins. Influenced and affected everything, took you in uncertain and unsteady directions. With Jesus, that dirt been completely removed so can actually now move forward in life, free from influence of sin.

Notice that this ministry of Jesus’ got universal impact. It is the sin of the world that the Lamb of God comes to address. In other words, Jesus sufficient and adequate for all people. For his ministry is broad and deep and comprehensive. Jesus does not do focus groups, demographic study. “This can only be for one type of person.” Jesus’ ministry is for every type of person. It is a ministry for the world.

All of this awesome and wonderful. But all of this comes at great personal cost. In order for Jesus to reconnect us to God and wipe away our sin, he has to give up his own life. The previous sacrifices of lambs in the Old Testament were a picture of the literal sacrifice of Jesus. For one thing has always remained the same, and that is sacrifice is always what is needed if sin is to be wiped away. So that is what Jesus did. He sacrificed himself. He became our substitute, taking upon himself the consequences for our sin that rightfully should have come upon us.  

First description then really brings us to some core concepts must understand if are to really understand Jesus and his ministry. Not enough to believe in God. Not enough to want get life straight, be spiritual, be more “godly.”

What all must deal with is this core concept of sin and substitution. That in order for us to gain God we need our sin to be wiped away; sin covers our lives so thoroughly there no place for God. Jesus came and took our place by taking our sin upon himself so that our lives could now be filled with God.

That’s fundamental dimension of Jesus’ ministry. That what must believe about yourself and Jesus if really want to believe in God, get your life straight, live truly spiritual and godly life.

This takes us now to description #2. [32] And John bore witness: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.  [33] I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' [34] And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."

Draw your attention to v.33 for second description. [CLICK] Jesus is the Holy Spirit Baptizer by whom we are made new. Notice contrast. John the Baptist only baptize with water. Jesus however baptizes with the Holy Spirit. Greek word baptizo means literally “to dip, plunge.” When it’s used in passive it means “to be drowned.” Ancient Jewish historian Josephus uses the word to describe the crowds who flocked into Jerusalem when came under siege. He says essentially that the crowds “flooded” the city.

Jesus does not skimp when comes to giving us the Holy Spirit. The ministry of Jesus is one whereby lives are flooded with divine Spirit.

This not been possible before. In OT, Spirit came and then left people. But in OT, there was promise given of time when this no longer be the case. In Isa 32:15 prophet anticipates time when “the Spirit is poured [out] from on high.”  Joel 3:28-29 the prophet speaks of time to come when God “will pour out [his] Spirit on all flesh.”

With arrival of Jesus time that was anticipated now here. Notice here how says that Spirit descended on Jesus and remained on him. Means Jesus divinely commissioned by God and is permanently full of God. So too now all those who connected to Jesus. All those who have truly believed in Jesus, from moment they believed, forever have God within them. 

And as later says in John 3:34, God has given Spirit to Jesus without measure. Jesus extends this now to us. There is limit to the Spirit in a person’s life. No rationing of the Spirit. Every part of a person’s life is immersed with God’s Spirit.

Implications? Obviously, Jesus’ ministry fundamentally about ushering in whole new reality. Details of this new reality can be extended out from things mentioned under first description we gave about Jesus.

So for example, to be baptized in the Spirit means no longer living under dictatorship of sin. Spirit has purifying and sanctifying influence, removes sin’s power over you. What did the dictatorship of sin bring into your life? Fear. Anxiety. Uncertainty. Death.  What does the Spirit now bring into your life? Well, as 2 Timothy 1:7 says, brings power, love, and self-control. Indeed, infinite reservoir of power, love, and self-control.

To be baptized in the Spirit also means now being united with the world. Sin keeps us separate in the world. Sin leads us to live lives that nonrelational, noncommunal. We become nonhuman, because we identify ourselves and treat people based not on common humanity but cultural or legal categories.

The Spirit brings into our lives harmony, peace and unity. Our humanity restored in a way where now we relate and commune together as part of one body. As it says in 1 Cor. 12:13 – “For in one Spirit we were all [i.e. all believers] baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

More to say about this new reality we have because of Jesus. But for do this we must now take our detour to Matthew. And there we find one last description about Jesus. This last one comes directly from God the Father. Read entire passage earlier. Hone in on last few verses. 3:[16] And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; [17] and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

[CLICK] Description #3: Jesus is the Beloved Son of God in whom we find love and delight

Word “beloved” speaks to strong affection Father has for Jesus. Jesus is Son of God and he deeply loved by him. Even more, Father takes great delight in Son. He enjoys Jesus and approves of him and all that he does.

Jesus has always experienced such sweet love and delight. Been eternal fellowship of love and enjoyment and approval between the Father and Son.

In Jesus Christ we brought into this fellowship. To have sins removed and be baptized into the Holy Spirit means knowing and experiencing and exhibit to the world the perfect love and delight and joy of God. Because when God looks on us now he sees Jesus. (Col. 3:3, For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. etc…)

That’s why we told that nothing in all creation can now separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:39). That’s why Jesus tells us to abide in his love by keeping his commandments, for by doing so we will abide in God’s love and then our joy will be full (John 15:1-11).

That’s why in announcing birth of Jesus angel Gabriel says is good news of great joy that will be for all people (Luke 2:10). That’s why Paul tells us that being a servant of Jesus means not looking for man to be pleased with you. Please. That’s temporary and shallow. Being a servant of Jesus means getting pleasure and approval from God (Gal 1:10). For Jesus is always about doing what God wants, for the glory and joy of God.

This important point about Jesus to realize. Keep that in mind as we now return to where began. We asked in the beginning, why did Jesus begin his public ministry with baptism? Notice what even John the Baptist says in Matthew 3. Seems that even before John saw the sign of the Holy Spirit coming on Jesus, he had sense about who Jesus was. So John actually tries to prevent Jesus from being baptized. He says in v.14, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"

Makes no sense for Jesus be doing this. But then take note of Jesus’ answer. v.15, Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."  

In being baptized Jesus sets tone for rest of his ministry. Jesus is someone who identifies himself with sinners. As Jesus says, he comes to cure not those who prideful, think they healthy. No, he comes to those who are sick and admit they sick, sick with sin. He comes to make them healthy, to make them right.  All of this is according to God’s righteous plan, which was to bring a righteous one who would bear sins of many so that many might be made righteous (Isa 53:11-12).

In Jesus, righteousness of God will be fulfilled within the world. So for Jesus it is right to begin his ministry in this way, for this how God wants to start things off.

Understanding this helps us dig even deeper into the fundamental idea behind Jesus and his ministry. It’s this – all this is done because this is what God wanted to do.

Notice first description of Jesus we looked at. Jesus not just any Lamb. He is God’s Lamb. Only God could provide the Lamb that is Jesus. God himself sacrificed Jesus, not because we earned it or deserved it or were even looking for it, but because God wanted to do it! In fact, in Jesus what we see is not only God sacrificing his son but God sacrificing himself, for Jesus is God.

You want to understand Jesus? Must understand this – story of Jesus ultimately and fundamentally about God acting on our behalf, based solely on the fact that he was willing to and he wanted to.

And in that God ultimately gets the glory, Jesus gets the honor, and we give to them the praise that they are rightfully due, praise that we will never ever get tired of giving.

But all of this is foolishness unless you understand, really understand Jesus and God in this way. Are you humble enough to understand that it’s not about you, it’s about God and what God did in spite of you!


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