Saturday, June 25, 2022

A Baptism Like No Other - Luke 3:18-22 - June 26, 2022

 Luke 3.18-22 A Baptism Like No Other

Good morning! We are continuing our work in the Gospel of Luke with chapter three beginning in verse eighteen, that’s on page 859 in the pew Bibles.

We have spent the last few weeks dealing with the remarkable character John the Baptist. In our study of the Gospel of Luke, this is it, this is the end. This is the moment when all our attention will turn from the Voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord to the Lord Himself. And we have this dramatic transition that happens at the baptism of Jesus.

Now as we look at our passage this morning, you may notice two things, one, that it is really short and low on details, and two, that it seems out of order chronologically speaking. I how you notice those two things, especially since I just pointed them out.

Let’s look at our passage and we can test whether or not you were paying attention just now.

18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison. 

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” 

Let’s pray.

So did you notice that these two paragraphs are out of order? 

Jesus could not have been baptized by John if John was already in prison. 

Maybe you didn’t notice but Luke leaves out a lot of details about the baptism of Jesus that the other Gospel writers included. 

Well let’s get those things straightened out.

First things first, Luke’s purpose here in this passage, though it is not in chronological order, is to point to the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus and the beginning of the end of John the Baptist’s.

John the Baptist said in John 3:28-30, 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” 

The decrease of John’s ministry began with his imprisonment by Herod the tetrarch. John confronted Herod for marrying his own brothers wife, who incidentally was also his niece. (Herod’s family tree was more like a wreath.)

Herod, wicked as he was, was also morbidly curious about John and his message.

Mark records in his Gospel in chapter six, 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.

Soon after this John would be beheaded in prison. But this wouldn’t happen for around two years after the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River which is recorded in the next paragraph in Luke 3. 

Though they are out of chronological order, Luke’s purpose was to move on from the ministry of John and focus solely on the ministry of Jesus beginning with His baptism. 

So let’s look at that.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” 

Matthew records another great example of the humility of John when Jesus came to him to be baptized in Matthew 3:13-15

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

Can you imagine being in John’s position? I’ve had the privilege of baptizing a number of people in the Name of Jesus and it’s always humbling, but to be asked to baptize Jesus Himself? I can’t even imagine!

Doctrinally speaking there is another item of great interest here and that is the presence and work of the Trinity at Jesus’ baptism.

Now if you’ve ever used a concordance or even an internet search for the word “trinity” in the Bible you won’t find it, there is no chapter and verse that uses the word. 

However, the teaching of the reality of the Trinity is all over the Bible beginning at creation and is perhaps never closer to the surface than in this event, the baptism of Jesus.

Here you have the Father speaking from heaven, the Son in the water, and the Holy Spirit descending on the Son in bodily form like a dove. 

What a beautiful picture of God who is distinct, yet three in one.

There’s lots of discussion to be had about that, especially when it comes to talking with our Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness friends who don’t believe in the Trinity, but that’s beyond our purposes for today.

All this is well and good and interesting, well, maybe, maybe not, but whenever I read this passage, or read about this event in the Gospels, I am always left with the question, why was Jesus baptized at all?

Think about it for a minute. John was baptizing people for repentance. 

The people came to John, were convicted of their sins, and were seeking to turn away from them in preparation for the coming of Messiah, and were baptized.

Jesus had no sin to repent of, he was perfectly sinless, He had no sin to turn from.

Some people say that Jesus was baptized to give us an example. Jesus was baptized and so we His disciples who have faith in Him and want to follow Him get baptized too.

Well, that isn’t quite right either. 

When a believer gets baptized they are symbolically looking back on the completed work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, embracing our spiritual death to sin and rising to new life as a new creation through faith in Jesus.

While there are certainly similarities between the believer’s baptism and the baptism of Jesus, such as through baptism we both identify with the church, the family of God, and through baptism we both are consecrated to the Father’s plan for us, there is no denying that no one has ever had a baptism like Jesus.

First off, as I already mentioned, Jesus was sinless, John was right in saying that he ought to be baptized by Jesus not the other way around, Jesus is Messiah, the Christ, no one who had ever been baptized, nor any who have been baptized since can rightly claim that they are Messiah.

When Jesus was baptized, as He told John in Matthew 3:15, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. This is not to say that he was not righteous before this moment, but it was an exercise in completing the observances and practices required.

To be baptized has always symbolized a change, a new start, and that’s exactly what Jesus was doing. He was moving from the quiet obscurity of growing up in Nazareth to unbounded publicity. 

His baptism was not for repentance but for a new direction, a direction that would lead Him to the cross.

When the Apostle John recorded the baptism of Jesus he wrote it this way in John 1,

29 The next day [John] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 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.”

Isaiah wrote about this event in Isaiah 11.1-3,

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

There is some debate about whether or not there was an actual dove and whether or not it was only John and Jesus that saw it, not that it really matters, we have all we need to understand.

This was the anointing of the Spirit, the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry for us as the atoning High Priest.

And finally there was the voice from heaven, the Father saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

This is an echo of Isaiah 42:1-3, Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench…

And also Psalm 2:7, The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.”

This was not news to Jesus, He knew who He was. But the voice of the Father from heaven served as a seal and a consecration to Jesus as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.

Only Jesus could truly say the words of Isaiah 61 about Himself, 

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning of His public ministry of proclaiming Good News to the poor, binding up the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, and through His death on the cross and resurrection form the dead He opened up the prison doors and set free those who were bound in sin.

In our baptism (and we get baptized because Jesus commanded us to) we look back on Jesus’ completed work and identify with the rest of the church family as belonging to Him, be made like Him in His death and raised again to new life through faith in Him.

— to be given a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that we may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that HE may be glorified.