Matthew 3:15-16 But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness." Then he consented. 3:16 And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him;
This is the season of Epiphany. Epiphany is all about making something seen, or making something known. It is really a continuation of Christmas, because the theme is the coming of the Savior, but not just for Israel, this is good news for the whole world. If it begins with the wisemen seeing the star, and coming to worship, fulfilling prophecy about people who sit in darkness have seen a great light. It is a theme which continues, for today in the baptism of Jesus we see what it is that the savior has come to do, to bring us salvation.
So the question before us is, what is so special about the Baptism of Jesus? Its not hard to see it as the event that really begins his public ministry, even though the temptation comes first, there really are no witnesses. Its not hard to talk about the Spirit descending on him in the form of the dove. It must be significant that the text says that the heavens were opened. Not to mention the voice from Heaven, and its message – "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."
Why are father’s pleased with their sons? Isn’t it generally because the sons are doing what is right and proper. If God is saying he is pleased with Jesus, what has he done, what is so special about this baptism? John the Baptist recognizes that something special is going on, John was baptizing with water, for repentance. He could see not only that Jesus had nothing to repent of, but also that Jesus was the one he had been speaking of throughout his ministry, the one coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. So John, would have had Jesus baptize him, for he saw the gifts the savior brought, and earnestly desired them.
But Jesus saidMatthew 3:15 – Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."
And this is what is so special about the baptism of Jesus, is that he took our burden upon himself – he took all the weight of our sin, guilt and shame and carried our burden. God didn’t bring salvation by doing away with the law, rather salvation comes as the law is finally fulfilled. Salvation comes to us, because Jesus became our substitute, keeping the law for us, and dying for us – for that is what the law required, for the law says that they wages of sin is death – and so Jesus who begins to carry the weight of the sin of the world, will pay our debt when he suffers and dies in our place.
That would be good news, that our debt has been paid. But, that would not have brought us salvation, for even though we had gotten out of debt, it is not likely that we would have remained out of debt. So not only must our debts be paid, but we must be freed from the things to which we are indebted – these are the things which enslave us – the world, our flesh, and the devil. Jesus experienced all these things, under the weight of our sin guilt and shame, he understands us – and still he loves us and forgives us – he is approachable, he is not to be feared.
1 Peter 2:21-25For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 2:22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 2:25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.