Matthew 3:13-17 — It is a Short Passage of Five Verses But Wow Does It Teach Us So Much!!!

Posted: September 6, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 3:13-17 — This is a short passage, only 5 verses long, but it has so much in it. On Friday, we talked about how Jesus’ baptism shows us how the Son of God was such a humble servant of the Father that He was willing to subject Himself to baptism when He did not have to. Tomorrow, we will look at how all the three persons of the Trinity are present in this passage. But for today, let’s take a look at how Jesus’ baptism is symbolic of His earthly ministry.

Jesus earthly ministry is symbolized by his walking into the water to be baptized. His being on dry land before walking into the water is symbolic of his dwelling in Heaven in all His glory. Just was we humans have greater movement and greater abilities on dry land than we do in the water so it is with Jesus. When not in the flesh of his earthly body, Jesus is God. He is fully divine. He has all the power of the Godhead, the Trinity. It was through Him that all things were made. He is eternal. His being on dry land before walking in the water is symbolic of the fact that was full of heavenly glory. He had that same glory that caused God to tell Moses to hide himself as God passed by. He has that same glory that is spoken of in Revelation that will cause all of us when we are citizens of heaven to praise him constantly. God sent his Son to earth though.

Jesus’ walking into the water is symbolic of his breaking into human history. When we humans get into the water, it limits our capabilities. We are built for dry land. In the water, we can have functionality. We can do certain things but it restricted compared to what we can do on dry land. Isn’t this symbolic of Jesus breaking into human history? Yes, it is. When Jesus leaves heaven to come to earth in the flesh, He set aside His full glory. Don’t get me wrong, He was still God in the flesh but He chose to limit himself in certain ways because there was a purpose to his earthly existence that He did not want to overpower. Just as we humans are voluntarily restricting our capabilities when we go swimming, Jesus voluntarily set aside his glory to come to earth in the flesh of a human man.

Jesus’ walking through the water is also symbolic of how He left heaven to get involved in the messiness of human existence. He came into the water with us. He is not some remote God who does not care about us. He came down from heaven, set aside His glory, and lived among us in the muddy waters of our Jordan River. He got messy with us. He lived life with us. He is Emmanuel – God with us. Think about all the things that Jesus did in this life. He was born. He was a child. He was a tweener. He was a teenager. He was a young man learning a trade under his earthly father’s direction. He worked. He slept when He was tired. He got tired. He experienced the loss of loved ones. He experienced the joys major events in life like weddings. He experienced everything that you and I experience. Yet, He was God in the flesh. When you think that God does not understand your problems when you beseech Him in prayer. Think again. He knows exactly what you are going through. In Jesus, we know that God has been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. We should do well to remember that when we think God is far from us.

Jesus’ giving control of his body to the hands of John the Baptist to be lowered into the water is symbolic of Jesus on the cross. Jesus, though God in the flesh, submitted Himself to the Jewish and Roman authorities to be crucified on the cross. Jesus could have removed Himself from all of the punishment and could have removed Himself from the cross but He did not. He submitted Himself to just as He submitted control of his body to John the Baptist at baptism. It was all for a purpose. If Jesus had removed Himself from the cross, which He could have surely done for He is God in the flesh, we would not have a completed sacrifice for sin. It would be like the the lambs or the rams of the Old Testament sacrifices accidently getting loose and running away. The sacrifice would not have been complete. And thus we would still be condemned in our sins. The cross had a purpose in God’s redemptive plan for man. And Jesus was willing to take the pain the suffering and the death to completion on the cross so that the perfect, sinless and final sacrifice could be completed. It is in His complete perfection that God says that Jesus’ death on the cross is a substitute sacrifice for what we deserve. We deserve what Jesus got. Our sins condemn us to hell daily. One sin is too much for us to be the presence of God in eternity much less the multitudes of sins that we commit daily in our lives every day. It is only through this sacrifice that Jesus was willing to submit Himself to that we have redemption and restoration to a right relationship with God.

Jesus going underwater in the baptism ceremony in the Jordan River is symbolic of his death and going into the tomb. Jesus takes our sins with him to the tomb just the dunking under water for us cleanses our bodies of dirt and filth. Jesus takes the wrath of God hatred for sin with Him to the tomb. In so doing, Jesus gives us victory over our sins. We made clean by His time in the tomb. When we humans spend too much time under water we will die. Jesus died so that we might have eternal life. Jesus’ going down into the tomb was necessary. In taking on God’s wrath for the sin of all mankind, He had to die. He had to kill sin through His death. His death is necessary to complete that. Jesus voluntarily let John the Baptist dunk Him under water and likewise He voluntarily suffered a real death in human terms so that the victory over sin would be complete. But there is more to the story!

Jesus came up out of the water to begin his ministry and was at that moment made known to all who were present that He was indeed the Son of God in whom the Father was well pleased and on whom the Holy Spirit descended upon like a dove. This is symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion and death. Jesus arose from the dead and the resurrected Christ was witnessed by thousands of people. Just as His arising from the water gave everyone a clue as to the fact that He was the Son of God so did His bodily resurrection from the dead after his crucifixion. Jesus was indeed the Son of God. He is God in the flesh. It is the same for us when we accept Christ as our Savior, we experience the favor of God. He is well pleased in us. We come to know Jesus Christ. And the Holy Spirit descends upon us and lives in our hearts to change us from the inside out. At our salvation we are resurrected from our deadness in sin. We are made new.

Jesus walked away from His baptism to begin His ministry and suffer through the temptations of the devil that came with it. It is the same for us, when we arise from salvation. We are ready to being our ministry in Jesus. We are ready to serve Him. We are ready to tell people about Him. Just as baptism is not the end of all things for us. It is not the finish line but it is the beginning. Jesus walked away from His baptism to begin his ministry but almost immediately He encountered temptations from the devil. It is the same for us after salvation. We will be tempted by the devil because we are saved. He wants to make us ineffective by miring us in sins. Jesus thwarted the devil through His use of and His obedience to God’s Word. It is the same for us. After salvation, we have a big ol’ target on our back that Satan is going to shoot for. We must be obedient to God’s Word. We must know God’s Word and internalize it. We must study it and make it apart of who we are. Jesus was the Word in the flesh. Jesus remained obedient to the Father. So, we pray that we can to. We are not perfect nor divine like Jesus but it is Jesus that covers up our sins as the Holy Spirit continues His perfecting work in us. We have the Word, We have Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit. We are protected and perfected as we walk away from our salvation moment to live the life that God intended for us – to be the ministers of His Word to a dark and dying world. We publicly proclaim the beginning of our ministry at our baptism that has been brought about by our salvation before baptism. Jesus walked away to begin His ministry. He is our example and our leader. We must walk away from our baptism and begin our ministries of spreading the gospel to everyone we meet.

Love. Love. Love Jesus’ baptism in this very short passage. It says so much about Jesus and who He is what He was willing to do for you and me. The symbolism of this act by Jesus is so paralleled to His earthly ministry and what it lead to and and what He had to do for us. It is symbolic of what accepting Him as our Savior does for us and what we are do after that. This scene is power packed and just so totally off the charts awesome! Read. Reread it and read it again! So much there! So much power! So much symbolism for both Jesus and us as His followers. As that famous line from Fast Times at Ridgemont High said, “Read it. Learn it. Live it!”

Amen and amen!


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