The Necessity of Baptism
Text: Matthew 3:13-17 Speaker: Pastor Matthew Ude Festival: Epiphany Passages: Matthew 3:13-17
Full Service Video
The Baptism of Jesus (Listen)
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. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,1 and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,2 with whom I am well pleased.”
There are so many people in and out of the Bible who think they know better than God. Some make this mistake in ignorance, like Abraham, Moses, and Peter. Other proceed in outright arrogance, like Jeroboam, Ahab, and Judas. The people knowing God’s path choose another route.
“Go this way,” says God.
“No, I know a shortcut,” the reply.
What about YOU? I’m willing to guess that most of your names belong on that list as well. At some point probably in the not so distant past have metaphorically held out you hands to stop God. Not your way God but mine.
If you have your in pretty good company since that is exactly what John does in our text. We can easily understand why John says what he says. If we were in his place we would probably react the same way. Nevertheless he is putting his understanding ahead of God’s word, if only for a minute. He does for a brief second suggest that his way is better than Jesus’.
Our text makes it abundantly clear whose way is the right way.
“This is my beloved Son. In Him I am well pleased.”
In our text the way of God is the way of baptism. John fails to grasp the importance even the necessity of Jesus baptism. We too often fail to grasp the necessity of our baptism. Baptism is necessary. It was necessary for Jesus and for you.
Born as one of us
It was necessary for Jesus to be baptized because Jesus was born under the law. He was born as one of us. In order that He could save us He became one of us in every way, even in obedience to the Father’s word.
God sent the word through John that all were to be baptized. Jesus as one who was also obedient to the word of the Father obeyed that word of the Father. He did not stop to quibble that this word didn’t apply to Him. What the Father commanded Jesus did.
Sometimes in class at school three or four students will not know there memory work. Sometimes in such a situation all of us, even those who knew their memory work will go together to the gym to work on the memory work.
Jesus himself told the Israelites:
Mat 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
Whatever God commanded Jesus did. Jesus went to be baptized.
For this reason, God proclaim “My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Because Jesus did all things the Father commanded perfectly, even coming to be baptized.
Standing in our place
Jesus’ baptism was necessary because he stood in our place. He did not just become one of us. He became us. He stood in our place before the Father.
When God that Father said, “Matthew Roland Ude please step forward for your judgement.”
It was Jesus who stepped forward to receive the punishment. Standing in my place, standing in your place.
“Behold the Lamb of God who bears the sin of the world.”
It was necessary for Jesus to be baptized because He stood in our place. It is our sins that are washed away in His baptism.
Our Baptism is necessary
Just as John failed to grasp the importance of Jesus baptism, we also often fail to grasp the importance of our own. Just as John thought he knew a better way so also, we often think we know a better way. Just as it was necessary for Jesus to be baptized so also you need your baptism.
I’m not saying that it was necessary for you to have been baptized. That’s true but that isn’t what I am talking about today. I’m saying you need your baptism right now today. Your baptism is necessary.
You need your baptism to daily fight off sin
There are so many self-help books, videos and ted talks out there these days. 10 words to capture any woman’s heart. 15 days to a healthier you. 8 secret habits that every successful person does. Many churches talk the same way. Fifteen days to strengthen your faith. Four steps for a better marriage. Etc
The Bible says there is one secret to a better you, your baptism:
Romans 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also [MAY] walk in newness of life.
Some of you may have memorized that passage, “we also SHOULD walk in the newness of life.” That is incorrect. Paul isn’t telling us what we should do. He is telling us what we are now able to do through baptism. Whereas before we could only walk in sin, now we are able to walk in the newness of life.
After God destroyed the world with a flood he appeared to Noah and said:
Genesis 8:21 “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
These words at first don’t seem to fit. The fact that man is evil sounds like reason to destroy the earth, not like a reason to not destroy the earth. But God’s point is this. The evil is in the heart of man. Destroying the word with a flood does not clean the evil out of the heart. God needed a new plan which would clean the sin from the heart rather than wash life off the earth. God needed something more powerful than the flood.
1 Peter 3:21 makes it clear that this new plan is baptism which through Jesus Christ washes the evil from our hearts.
1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us– baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
You need your baptism each and every day because it alone has the power to wash away your sin and give you the ability to walk in the newness of life.
You need your baptism for knowledge of salvation
Your baptism is an external objective event which you can point to in time of sin and doubt and say, “I have been baptized. I am a child of God. God has forgiven my sin. I know it to be true because Jesus died for me and baptized me.”
Just because some people despise and throw away their baptism does not mean that your baptism is worthless. If I were to take this $100 bill and crumple it up and throw it away in the trash does that mean that money is worthless? No, the money is still valuable. My actions only prove that I am a fool. Or that I am pastor trying to make a point. Treating money as though it were worthless does not make it worthless.
Many people throw their baptism away every day, that does not mean that baptism is worthless or valueless or powerless but only that those people are fools.
Your baptism is a thing that you can return to time and time again.
When you are suffering and you think that God is punishing you. Your baptism is a promise from God that He is not punishing you. He loves you.
When you have sinned and think that you have failed and that you aren’t a Christian and don’t deserve God’s love. Your baptism is the promise that you have the Holy Spirit, and that God has forgiven you.
When you just keep failing at life, your baptism is the proof that through Jesus God has said to you, “My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus stood in our place in the waters of His baptism. What the Father said to Him becomes ours through our baptism.
You need your baptism because as our epistle reading reminds us:
Romans 6:4 we were buried with Him through baptism into death
It is our baptism that connects us to Jesus and assures us that we are the children of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Like John we often think that we know a better way. We may often think that baptism isn’t necessary. We may think that having been baptized we don’t really need to think about it anymore.
God knows what He is doing. His gift of baptism is a precious gift. It was necessary for Jesus and it is necessary for us every day of our life.