13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"

15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

16 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. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

Matt 3:13-17 (NIV)

The fullness of time had arrived for the inauguration of Jesus’ earthly ministry – the on start of His prophetic office - and our Example does it in lowliness of heart. He begins by the act of baptism. It was an instance of our Lord’s great humility and the Baptist – being filled with the Spirit from birth - protests the act, knowing the Messiah to be the flawless One and Only. There would have been no need for His repentance – He had nothing to repent from. Yet He abases Himself – perhaps as an act of association with sinful man whom He came to save - setting forth the example of humility though surely knowing He was intended for the highest honors. Those who rise high must begin low. Those who honor God with their actions, God will honor. Scripture tells us:

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6 (NIV)

Our Lord’s actions here and John’s protest are much akin to the time later in Jesus’ ministry where He chooses to wrap a towel around Himself and wash His disciple’s feet - to the protestation of Peter:

3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" 7 Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." 8 "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." 9 "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" John 13:3-9 (NIV)

Christ’s gracious lowering of himself in these two actions is so surprising, so deep and mysterious, taking both the Baptist and Peter totally off guard. I find it interesting as well that at the time of Jesus’ baptism John’s ministry was at its height. He had obtained a great name and was respected yet he remained quite humble in the presence of the Master. It is always important for us to remember that if God chooses to use our vessels and man begins to take note and applaud – it is Christ in us that they are applauding, not us. Doubtful the donkey Jesus was riding on in His triumphal entry thought they were waving the palm branches at him. We often take ourselves much too seriously – improperly elevating self. It is easier to be humble when one has a clear understanding that they are saved by grace alone, that they are dearly loved and belong to God, that they have nothing to prove to flesh and that they are returning back to God. Jesus surely did not give much weight to man’s opinion – He was fully aware of what was in a man.

“It is only the fear of God that can deliver us from the fear of man.” John Witherspoon

Lastly, we see the presence of the Trinity in a special display of glory. Heaven applauded and affirmed the work that was about to begin and which Jesus enters into with firm resolution. Sin had shut up heaven and Christ’s work would now open it to all who would believe. The Spirit had been present in the beginning of Creation and now we see here His presence at the beginning of this new world which Jesus came to offer. Isaiah prophesizes regarding this:

1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD-- Isaiah 11:1-2 (NIV)

God speaks His Words of confirmation and pleasure of His Son as well. Christ reconciling the world to God is a joyful message indeed. Interestingly, the Sprit arrived manifested in the likeness of a dove but God the Father by a voice. How endearing and comforting that must have been to our Lord’s ears. God stood by Jesus by stating His relation – He was His Father – and by affirming His mission – “with him I am well pleased”. Paul writes in Colossians:

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col 1:13-14 (NIV)

"The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, the Helper, the Guide, the very presence of God living in you. The great promise of God in prayer is this: We ask God for the gift- He gives us the Giver. We ask God for the supply and He gives us the Source. We ask God for the money and He doesn't give us cash; instead, so to speak, He gives us the bank...He delights in giving us Himself...The resources of heaven are ready and waiting for the people of God who desire to make much of him in this world." David Platt

What I Glean

  • Jesus began His prophetic ministry in humility and ended it with God’s exaltation. 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2:9-11 (NIV)
  • I am saved by grace and dearly loved.
  • Fear of God delivers me from the fear of man.