Sunday, December 10, 2023

“Why Did Jesus Get Baptized?” [Matt's Messages]

“Why Did Jesus Get Baptized?”
Worship in Christian Baptism
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
December 10, 2023 :: Matthew 3:13-17 

Today before Simon and Darren step forward to be baptized, I want us to do a little Bible study in Matthew chapter 3 and try to answer the question together, “Why did Jesus get baptized?”

Because there is probably some overlap and also some gap between why Jesus got baptized and why Darren and Simon are getting baptized this morning.

We often say that someone like Simon or Darren is “following the Lord in water baptism” or “following the Lord’s example in water baptism.” 

Jesus got baptized, and so should we. But His baptism (because He’s Jesus!) is bound to be at least a little bit different than ours. Why did Jesus get baptized?

Everybody who has taken our church’s baptism class knows that there is a quiz in the middle of it which has trick questions. I always say, “There is no test, but there might be a quiz.” And I’ve taught the class, and now Abe has the taught the class, and both of us have given this quiz that is True or False and everybody who takes it, passes. 

But there are some trick questions on it. Let me show you three of the questions:

This one shouldn’t be tricky for this church:

True or False? “Baptism gets you into heaven.”

That one’s false [very false!], and it has never tricked anyone in our classes. Water baptism does not save anyone. Jesus saves people, and we receive that salvation by His grace through our faith. And not by works (like baptism!) so that we cannot boast.

Baptism is a visible picture of the invisible reality of our salvation. If you had to get baptized to go to heaven, then the Thief on the Cross was out of luck because he never was baptized. And Jesus was wrong to say to him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

That one’s false. How about this one?

True or False? “Our church practices baptism by immersion because it is fun to see people get dunked in the water.”

That’s a trickier one. We do baptism by immersion, and it is fun to see people get dunked in the water. Here goes Simon and Darren!

But that’s not the main reason why we do it. The main reason we immerse is because every baptism described in the New Testament seems to be by immersion, including Jesus here in Matthew 3. John the Baptist (Notorious JTB) didn’t just sprinkle a little water on Jesus’ head or splash some on Him up on the beach; they got down into the Jordan river together. Remember chapter 3 of John’s Gospel said that JTB was baptizing at “Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water.”

And even more importantly, we do immersion because of how it pictures death and resurrection. When Simon is laid back into the water, it will remind us of Jesus going down into the grave, and when Darren is brought up out of the water, it will picture Jesus coming back out of the grave alive! That’s the main reason why we do it this way though we love and respect Christians who  do it differently.

But here’s probably the trickiest question that we ask on the quiz. So if you haven’t taken the baptism class yet, you’ll be ahead.

True or False? “Jesus didn’t need to be baptized since He didn’t sin.”

That’s a tricky one. I think it depends on what part of the question you put the most emphasis.

Why did Jesus get baptized? Did He need to?

I think that even John the Baptist had that question. Let’s look more closely at Matthew chapter 3.

Matthew chapter 3 begins with telling us all about the ministry of John the Baptist. We don’t have time this morning to go back over all of that. It could make a good Bible study for you this afternoon.

It’s a lot of the same things we learned about JTB as we’ve been going through the Gospel of John, especially in chapters 1, 3, and 5. John is the Voice from Isaiah 40 calling, “Prepare the way for the Lord.”

John’s trying to get God’s people ready for the Messiah. John is not the Christ, but He’s pointing people to the Christ. John says that he baptizes “with water for repentance” (v.11) (to symbolize repentance), but there is One coming after John who is more powerful and more wonderful and much greater than John. And that One to come will baptize them not just externally with water but internally with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The fire of judgment and purification.

John said that he wasn’t worthy to untie that One’s shoes. He wasn’t worthy to even be his servant. John wanted to decrease and see the Messiah increase. John was a voice (and as we saw last week) a lamp that burned and gave light to highlight the True Light who was coming into the world.

And then...Jesus came to John to be baptized.

Isn’t that strange?! Look at verse 13.

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.”

The One that John has been preaching about shows up on the scene! And John, somehow, knows that. We don’t know all of what he knew when, but he’s obviously gotten memo by this point because, John says, “I’m not sure about this.”

Jesus shows up and says, “Okay. I’m here to be baptized.”

And John is like, “Uhh. Are you sure? I think we might be getting this backwards.” 

Imagine meeting the Messiah and the first thing you do is tell Him that He’s probably wrong! V.14

“But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’”

“Are you sure about this? Because I think it’s the other way around. I’m not worthy to tie your shoes. I’m certainly not worthy to baptize you. And I don’t think you need repentance.”

See, I think that JTB would answer our trick question as “TRUE.” Jesus didn’t need to be baptized since He didn’t sin.

All these other people coming to John needed to be baptized to symbolize their repentance. Some of them, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, wouldn’t admit it, but they needed it as much or more than most. But not Jesus. 

John need the baptism of the Spirit and of fire that Jesus would bring. Jesus didn’t need to be baptized for repentance. You and I need to be baptized to symbolize our repentance. Simon and Darren are saying today that they repent of their sins. But Jesus didn’t need to be baptized for repentance.

However, Jesus did need to be baptized.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “Oh yeah, you’re right. What was I thinking?  I don’t need to be baptized. That’s for you guys.” And He also doesn’t say, “Oh, yes, I must repent. I am a sinner just like you.”

No, what does He say? Look at verse 15.

“Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’”

So, I think that Jesus might answer our trick question as “False.” He did need to be baptized (even though) He didn’t ever sin. Jesus says, in effect, “Yes, let’s do it. I do need to be baptized. It’s the right thing for us to do to ‘fulfill all righteousness.’”

Jesus doesn’t need to be baptized for repentance, but He does need to be baptized for righteousness.

What does that mean?

Well, it probably means a whole bunch of things. We could probably meditate on it all day long. It means at least that it was “right thing” to do. His baptism fulfilled all righteousness because it was righteous for John and Jesus to do it.

But I’m sure it means a lot more than that. You might remember from our study of Matthew a few ago that “fulfill” was one of Matthew’s favorite words. It means “to fill up,” “to bring to fullness,” “to actualize.” He often used it to describe what Jesus was doing to the Old Testament Scriptures. He was filling them up.

Here, Jesus is saying that His baptism will bring righteousness to fullness. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!

And here’s where the principle of identification takes front and center. Baptism is, at heart, an identification with something or someone else. The one being baptized is getting immersed into something that stands for something. They are being included, absorbed, connected, identified in baptism.

As Simon and Darren get baptized today, they are identifying with Jesus. They are identifying themselves as sinners who need washing. And they are identifying with Jesus's death and resurrection. Buried with Jesus in death, raised with Jesus to new life.

Now, with what or whom do you think Jesus was identifying when He got baptized?

With us, right? Jesus was identifying with us and with our sin.

Why did Jesus get baptized?


When He went down into the water with John, Jesus was proclaiming His solidarity with us sinful humans whom He had come to save.

That’s the whole point of Christmas, isn’t it? That the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That He became like us as humans. And even more than that, He became like sinners.

That’s what the Old Testament was teaching, too. That’s what Jesus was “fulfilling.” Listen to this from Isaiah 53, verses 11 and 12. 

" his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

I think that's what it means for Jesus to fulfill all righteousness! Jesus was baptized to be numbered with us, to bear our sin as our substitute, to go to the Cross, and to give us His righteousness!

What a great exchange!! Jesus took our sin and gave us His righteousness.

That’s a big part of the picture of what Jesus was doing that day. So that when Darren and Simon get baptized, they are picturing the flipside of that. They are going to down to symbolize their sin being put to death with Jesus and coming back out with Jesus’ righteousness resting on them.

Jesus had to do it. Jesu had to get baptized to picture what He had to do on the Cross. To fulfill all righteousness.

And then when He did...all heaven broke loose! Look at verse 16 again.

“Then John consented [so Jesus was dunked]. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”

Wow! Just wow! I can’t imagine what that was like. It was like nothing else. The heavens broke open. It was cataclysmic and apocalyptic.

And the Holy Spirit of God descended on Jesus and came to rest on Him. The Spirit looked like a dove. I’m not 100% sure why. Perhaps like how the He hovered over the waters of creation in the beginning.

But remember what John the Baptist said about Jesus in John chapter 3? He said that God gave Jesus the Spirit “without limit” (Jn. 3:34, see also Isaiah 11). That’s the picture here.

And the whole Trinity is here working together with “inseparable operations.” One God in Three Persons. Not just the Son who is being baptized, not just the Spirit like a dove, but also God the Father speaking from heaven. And listen to what He says!

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Why did Jesus get baptized?

Not just to identify with us, but...


By God the Father Himself. Which is just exactly what we’ve been learning the last three weeks in John chapter 5, right? John chapter 5, verse 20. “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” (See also John 3:34!).

You just hear that Fatherly delight in His divine voice. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” “It was right for Him to get baptized. It fulfills all righteousness. Everything He does makes me happy! I sure love Him!”

“This One is My Son.”

He’s My “monogenays.” He’s My “One and Only.”  My “only begotten full of grace and truth.”

Isn’t that amazing?! 

And that’s why Jesus got baptized and why Simon and Darren are getting baptized today.

They are saying to the world that they believe in Jesus and have received His free gift of eternal life.

Here are four points of application from this Scripture: Repent. Receive. Rejoice. Retell.

Jesus did not need to repent, but you and I do. We need to turn from our sins and trust in the Savior. If you have not yet, don’t delay. Make this the day that you repent.

And receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior. He took on your sin and took your sin to the Cross. He died for your sin so receive Him as your Savior today. To “all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn. 1:12 NIVO).

And then rejoice that you will not perish but have eternal life. You have “crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). You have every reason to celebrate every day of your life and forever. “Repeat the sounding joy!”

And tell and retell of your salvation to everyone who will listen. Recount your story. Restate your testimony. Retell of your salvation to the world.

And that’s what Simon and Darren are now going to do.

Would you men come forward to tell us your stories?