Shelby G. Floyd
Follow in Christ’s Steps
When Christ lived on the earth, he left us an example that we should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2: 21.) The footprints of Jesus clearly lead to the Jordan River, where he was baptized at the hands of John the Baptist. When Jesus completed his last carpenter’s contract, and carefully laid away his tools, and said his last good by to his friends and family, he traveled approximately 70 miles to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. Matthew, records this significant event in the life of Christ:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
John the Baptist Baptized For the Forgiveness of Sins
John administered his baptism to those who repented and confessed their sins (Matthew 3: 6, 11). The object of John’s baptism was the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1: 4). Jesus neither had any sins to be repented, nor forgiven; therefore, John, encouraged Jesus not to be baptized. He could not see why Christ needed his baptism, but he certainly could see why he needed to be baptized by Jesus. Christ said, “Suffer it to be so now,” that is, make an exception in my case, that we may fulfill the righteousness of God. What did Jesus mean by this statement? According to David, the “royal bard” of Israel, all of God’s commandments are righteousness (Psalms 119: 172). Jesus desired to be baptized that he might keep every command of the will of God.
John’s Baptism Was an Essential Part of God’s Will
The baptism which God commanded John to administer was an essential part of the will of God (John 1: 33). Those persons, who justified God, received the baptism of John (Luke 7: 29). Certain persons such as the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves by not being baptized of John (Luke 7: 30). The attitude of Christ was not to seek his own will, but the will of his father that sent him (John 5: 30). It is said of him, by the Hebrews writer, that he came to do the will of God (Hebrews 10: 9). Therefore, in order that he might not be put in a class with those who rejected the counsel of God against themselves, he obeyed the will of God by being baptized of John; and thereby, fulfilled the righteousness of God (Psalms 119:172).
God’s Righteousness is Revealed in the Gospel
Those who would be righteous under the Law of Moses were required to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, were righteous in this sense (Luke 1: 6). A good question to ask would be where do we find the righteousness of God today? Paul, the great apostle of the Gentiles answered that question in his letter to the Romans. He said that he was not ashamed to preach the gospel of Christ, for within the gospel, God revealed his righteousness from faith to faith (Romans 1:16-17). God has no righteousness revealed outside of the gospel of his son Jesus Christ. Some, refused to hear the gospel and were thereby ignorant of God’s righteousness, and proceeded to establish their own righteousness, but were not pleasing in God’s sight (Romans 10: 1-4).
Water Baptism for Forgiveness is Part of the Gospel
The question still remains, since God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel, is baptism a part of the gospel? Baptism is most definitely connected with the gospel. When Jesus gave the great commission to the apostles whom he had chosen, he said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16: 15-16 NKJV). There is no question but that baptism is a part of the gospel and a prerequisite to being justified from our sins and fulfilling the righteousness of God.
Jesus Was Baptized To Publicly Identify Him as the Son of God
We further learn from the gospel according to John, that Jesus was baptized in order that God might publicly present him as the divine Son of God to the nation of Israel. While John was baptizing, the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask John who he was. They wanted to know his identity. He told them that he was not the Christ; he denied that he was Elijah or one of the other prophets. The only answer that he would give concerning his identity was that he was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, exhorting them to make straight the way of the Lord. They then asked him why he baptized, if he were not Christ or Elijah or some other prophet. He then pointed the people to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. He humbled himself, and emphasized the fact that Christ would increase, but he must decrease, and that he was not even worthy to stoop down and unloose the latchet of the shoes of him who would come after him (John 1: 19-28). John, then stated that he came baptizing in order that Christ might be made manifest to Israel,
John 1: 32-34
And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
After Jesus Was Baptized the Father Acknowledged Him as His Son
When Christ was baptized, God publicly endorsed him as his son and commended him to the people as being well pleasing in his sight. He further endorsed him by sending the Holy Spirit upon him in the form of a dove. (Matthew 3: 16-17.) When John saw these wonderful events, he realized that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God. God does not acknowledge any person as his spiritual child who has not by faith been baptized into his spiritual family the church. To the Galatians, the apostle Paul said, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3: 26-27).
Today All Who by Faith Are Baptized Are Sons of God
The Galatians were children of God by their faith. The reason they were children of God by faith was because they had been baptized into Christ, and thereby had put on Christ. Dear friend, be baptized into Christ and God will also acknowledge you as his child.
Copyright © 2013 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved