Thursday, July 17, 2014


When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.  And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”  (Luke 3:21-22) 
Jesus was, is and shall ever be utterly, inexpressibly holy.  No wonder then, that as John came to baptize Him, even so great a mortal as John the Baptist (Jesus said there had been none greater) balked at placing his hands on Him and immersing Him.  John was baptizing sinners—and Jesus did not belong to that crowd.  John himself said he wasn’t worthy to assume the position of the lowliest slave and stoop and loosen Christ’s sandal thongs, much less have Jesus submit to him in baptism!  Still, John listened and did as Christ required—and then he heard something else.
There is need to LISTEN!  Not only did John listen, but we need to do so as God speaks through this text.  To the voice of the Herald was added the Voice out of Heaven.  This is the Father’s affirmation of the absolute faithfulness of His Son.  For the eighteen years after the episode in the Temple, He has lived a spotless life.  Not once did Jesus as a boy fail to honor Joseph and Mary in their parental role.  Never did a lie slip from His lips as a teenager.  As a true man, reaching young adult life, He steadfastly refused to look at a woman with lust.  At age thirty, when John declares Him to be the Lamb of God, He is without spot or blemish, absolutely qualified to be the perfect fulfillment of what the Passover lamb pictured.
This makes it all the more remarkable that Jesus comes along with sinners to be baptized by John!  Imagine—in front of the lengthy line of baptismal candidates waiting their turn to step into the Jordan River, there may have been a remorseful prostitute in front of Him, and a repentant homosexual behind Him.  We know there were all manner of scoundrels there.  So, why was Jesus among them?
He was identifying with them—and that was His mission.   These were the very people He came to reach.  God did not leave us in our hopeless state, but He came to us!  In the act of baptism He was declaring His death, burial and resurrection.  This was a Gospel message, which is declared every time someone is baptized.  Being baptized was a step of obedience required—a positive act, and not only was Christ not guilty of a sin of commission (doing the wrong thing), He could not be accused of a sin of omission (failing to do the right thing).
Christ’s purity was ever reinforced by prayer.  We hear Him lifting up His voice in prayer as He is lifted up from the water.  Such intimacy with His Father was indispensable in maintaining His impeccable life.  How we who are so weak in comparison to Him can think we will stand strong until we kneel in weakness is beyond me.  It is foolish!  If I don’t win the battle in prayer, I am beaten before the Devil ever shows up—and he is coming to encounter us (Luke 4:1-13), lurking right around the corner.
His obedience and prayer brought down the anointing of the Spirit for His ministry.  The Dove descended from heaven and rested upon Him.  His life was continuously, conspicuously and comprehensively related to and reliant upon the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was conceived in holiness in the virgin’s womb by the Holy Spirit’s creative act.  Being always submissive to the Father’s will, there was never a time Jesus was not filled with the Holy Spirit.  Now, as He embarks on three and one-half years of ministry, the unction and anointing of the Spirit comes upon Him to enable Him to do the work.
I am called as a child of God to be holy for He is holy.  Followers of Christ need to emulate His actions.  Though I will not be sinless, I need to seek to sin less.  To submit to God’s will for me as Christ did in baptism, and publicly confess my allegiance to Him is the first step.  Then, I need to maintain close communion with God in prayer—daily and throughout the day.  The same Holy Spirit can fill me inside with His grace and come upon me in power for godly character and conduct if I will seek Him.  Thus, God can speak His benediction on my life as He did for His only Begotten Son!  Not to the same degree, of course, but any commendation from the Father is precious indeed.


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