Why Was Jesus Baptized?

Today’s reading is Matthew 3.

John was preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Not only that, he was baptizing folks telling them to look for One who was coming after him. Then along comes Jesus, and John can tell, this doesn’t seem right. I’m not sure he knew the half of it. But we do.

Why on earth did Jesus get baptized? Jesus was the One John was looking for. He didn’t need to repent. He didn’t need to have His sins forgiven. He had no sins to confess like the rest of John’s responders. What a contrast. We saw Pharisees and Sadducees who refused to repent, but now there’s Jesus who has nothing of which to repent. Wow!

Why did Jesus get baptized?

Jesus says it is to fulfill all righteousness. What does that mean? Interestingly, the word translated “fulfilled” is used 15 other times in Matthew. Two of the times it has a distinct meaning from how it is used in this passage (once referring to a net that was filled with fish, Matthew 13:48; once referring to the Jews who were walking in the footsteps of their forefathers filling up the measure of their fathers’ sins, Matthew 23:32). The other 13 times the word is used to refer to fulfilling Scripture (see 1:22; 2:15, 17, 23; 4:14; 5:17; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 26:54, 56; 27:9). Hmmmm. Does this give us an insight into what it means for this baptism to fulfill all righteousness? According to Matthew 5:17, Jesus came to fulfill every iota and dot of the Law and the Prophets. This baptism is no different. It is part of Jesus fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. But how?

Do you remember last week when we discussed the Hosea 11:1 prophecy, “Out of Egypt I called my son”? Do you remember we pointed out then that Jesus wasn’t simply fulfilling some foretelling sentences we could search out in the Law and the Prophets, but was fulfilling the very story of Israel, God’s firstborn son? That is exactly what we are seeing here. Jesus is walking in the footsteps of Israel, but is doing it without sin, without failure.

It is no shock John was baptizing in the Jordan. This was calling Israel to walk in the footsteps of their ancient ancestors who walked between the walls of water in the Red Sea and then walked through the Jordan in order to inhabit the kingdom God was preparing for them. In a very real sense, John was calling Israelites to go through the Jordan again. He was calling them to prepare to take their place in the kingdom God was establishing and had prepared for them.

In this context, Jesus is baptized. Just as Israel went through a baptism of water and Spirit, Jesus went through a baptism of water and Spirit. To put an exclamation point on this, notice that just as Israel went from it’s baptism to wander and be tested in the wilderness for 40 years, Jesus went from His baptism to wander and be tested in the wilderness for 40 days. Matthew is making the case. Jesus was baptized because the Scriptures needed to be fulfilled. Jesus is God’s one and only Son. He followed the story of God’s firstborn son in the Law and the Prophets. He didn’t just fulfill some choice list of sentences in the Old Testament, He fulfilled all that was righteous. He fulfilled all of Scripture.

Just as God demonstrated Israel’s sonship in the Red Sea and then again at the Jordan, God demonstrated Jesus’s sonship in the Jordan. Of course, if we want to be children of God, we must walk in Jesus’s footsteps, being baptized. Ours, like everyone who listened to John (except Jesus), is a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. But unlike all those other people who listened to John, we aren’t waiting around for someone else to come along, we are looking back to the one who has now come. We are looking back to Jesus and the forgiveness He offers those who will walk with Him, not through the Jordan, but through the grace of baptism. Do you need to walk with Jesus through that grave? If we can help you, leave a comment below.

“This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.” Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Matthew 4.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
  2. Why did Jesus need to fulfill Scripture?
  3. Why is it so much more profound to see Jesus fulfilling not just a list of sentences, but the entire story of Israel?
  4. How is our baptism different from Jesus’s?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?

If God Can Raise Up Children of Abraham from Stones…

Today’s reading is Matthew 3.

When John rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for trying to get baptized without repenting, he anticipated an objection: “But we are children of Abraham!” John’s response?

God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.

Just think about that. Meditate upon it. Let it roll around in every crevice of your heart and mind. As you do, something will begin to dawn on you. If God can raise up children for Abraham from the stones of the Jordan, He can raise you up as a son or daughter of Abraham.

Do not think God cannot save you. Do not think God cannot use you. Do not think God cannot bring glory to Himself through you. He can do that with stones in a river bed; He can do that with you.

And, lest we miss this, for many of us, this idea of “Father Abraham” and being children of Abraham goes all the way back to songs we learned as children. We’ve heard it for years. But in the context of Matthew, the only thing that has been said so far about being a child of Abraham was in Matthew 1:1. Do you remember? Jesus is the Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. In other words, God is able to make little Christs out of you and me both.

If you want that, may I encourage you to repent and be baptized? Not in John’s baptism, of course, but in Jesus’s? (See Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:38, et al). If we can help you with that, leave a comment below.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 3.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
  2. What do you know about Abraham?
  3. Why would anyone want to be a “child” of Abraham?
  4. How does it comfort you to know God can make a child of Abraham out of stones and out of you?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?

Fruit of Repentance

Today’s reading is Matthew 3.

Without television, internet, social media, or cell phones John’s preaching attracted a crowd. Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to hear him and be baptized by him. I recognize this is hyperbole. But the point is John was making a real splash.

Shockingly, there were two groups of people that came out and seemed to be responding, but John knew something was wrong. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were coming to his baptism. That possibly means they were just coming to witness him baptize people, but John’s reaction sure makes it sound like they were actually coming out to be baptized by him.

However, he was having none of it. Why? Because they refused an essential part of his baptism. They refused repentance. John didn’t just ask of them words of repentance. He asked for fruit of repentance. If repentance is a changed mind that leads to a changed action, repentance ought to be demonstrable. Of course, even when someone has repented, they may still struggle in the battle against sin. But these guys were clearly not struggling. They were just proposing to go through the motions of John’s baptism. They weren’t giving up their hypocrisies, their loopholes, their materialism, their superiority.

Of course, it is easy for us to point the finger at them. But we must remember when Peter calls us to baptism in Acts 2:38, his instruction to us is not merely to get baptized, but to “Repent and be baptized.” Ours is also a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

We therefore need to ask a question of ourselves. Is our repentance bearing fruit? What fruit? What is changing in our lives? God’s grace isn’t designed merely to forgive us, but to transform us. If we aren’t repenting, if we aren’t bearing fruit, then we aren’t surrendering to God’s grace.

Today, let’s have a fearless, honest, thorough personal inventory. Are we repenting? Are we bearing the fruit of it? Or are we just trying to cash in on a ritual? If you still need to repent, leave a comment below. We’d be happy to help you surrender to Jesus and His grace.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 3.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
  2. What does repentance mean?
  3. Is there anything you still need to repent of?
  4. What fruit of repentance are you showing? What fruit of repentance do you need to grow in?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?

The Return of Elijah

Today’s reading is Matthew 3.

In 2 Kings 1, King Ahaziah sent messengers to inquire of the Baal-zebub, god of Ekron about his health. A prophet of God stopped the messengers, sending them back to the king to tell him he was going to die. The text tells us who the prophet was, but the messengers didn’t know his name. Ahaziah asked them to describe the prophet. They said, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” Ahaziah knew exactly who that was: “It is Elijah the Tishbite.” If you have time, you may want to go back and read that whole story. It’s fascinating. But for our purposes, let’s get back to Matthew.

In Matthew 3:4, the apostle records, “Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey” (ESV). Stop to think about this for a moment. Ahaziah knew who the prophet was by hearing his attire. What are we supposed to hear when we read of this exact same attire? We are supposed to hear that John is Elijah.

Don’t misunderstand. He is not a resurrected Elijah. Rather, he is walking in the footsteps of Elijah. Of all the things that come to mind as we consider Elijah, we should think about how our Old Testaments end:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of destruction.

Malachi 4:5-6 (ESV)

Don’t miss anything Malachi recorded here. We often pick up on the repentance aspect–fathers and children turning their hearts toward each other. But notice how it ends. Judgment is coming. The great and awesome day of the Lord was coming, if the people didn’t repent, God would come and strike the land with a decree of destruction.

In other words, at the same time Matthew is pointing out two things. The hope and expectation of Israel is being fulfilled. However, if Israel doesn’t respond with repentance, they will not receive reward but recompense. The day of the Lord would be fantastic for those who respond, but terrifying for those who didn’t.

If we want to know how this is going to turn out, perhaps we should pay attention to how John is dealt with. Keep your eyes and ears open for that.

Elijah has come. Let us repent and be part of the kingdom.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 3.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
  2. What do you know about Elijah the prophet?
  3. How does what you know about Elijah relate to John?
  4. Why is it great to know God was fulfilling His promises from the Old Testament?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?

A Voice Cries Out

Today’s reading is Matthew 3.

In the days while Jesus was still in Nazareth, John, the one who baptized, started preaching in the wilderness. Without television or internet, without Facebook or Twitter, without Instagram or TikTok, the people heard of his preaching and flocked to him. They heard his message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

John was more than a man with a message. He was the beginning of the fulfillment of the hope and expectation of all Israel. Matthew makes the connection between John’s wilderness preaching and Isaiah’s prophecy of wilderness preaching. In other words, if we hadn’t already figured out what Matthew’s story was about, he leaves us without question now.

We look back to Isaiah 40 and we see the connection he was making. Though we tend to think of the message “Repent” as a harsh one, we see in Isaiah 40:1-2 that his message was actually one of comfort. The time of punishment and discipline was over. It was truly time for renewal and restoration. God was flattening the hills and straightening the curves on the path to His kingdom. He was making it easy for all to return to Him, to His kingdom. Any difficulty people had in turning to the Lord would be of their own making, not God’s.

Israel had a hope. We have a hope. It is very simple. Our hope? People come and go, but God’s Word stands forever. He may not bring His Word about in our life times. In fact, God may take generations to bring His promise to fulfillment. But He always fulfills His Word. John was letting his listeners know just as Matthew was letting his readers know, the time had come. Those who had held on to God’s Promises and Word were about to be vindicated for their faith.

What did God’s Word say? We find that in Isaiah 40:9-11. God’s Word was “Behold your God!” The Lord was coming. He was coming with might. He was coming to rule and to reward and to recompense. He was coming to shepherd. Matthew is making a profound point. John was a herald that something was coming. That something was a kingdom. But a kingdom takes a king. Matthew 3:1-6 is just the beginning. The herald has come. Folks are flocking to him. But He is just paving the way for something, for someone, greater. That someone is Jesus. He is more than John’s cousin. He is God come into the world. He is the King establishing and restoring His kingdom, judging those who would oppose it and Him. He is the Shepherd who leads His sheep in paths of righteousness of His name’s sake.

John is a voice crying out God’s Word and Promises. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Word and Promises of God. If you are full of hope and expectation, look no further than Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Son of God.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 3.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
  2. What do you know about John the Baptist?
  3. How does his message of repentance make straight the way of God?
  4. Is there any repenting you need to do?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?

Rachel Wept

Today’s reading is Matthew 2.

Herod did the unthinkable. Because he believed the wise men, because he believed the chief priests and scribes, because he believed the Scriptures, because he believed he could defy God and win, he slaughtered all the children of Bethlehem two years old and under.

Matthew refers to another prophecy that doesn’t actually seem to be about the Messiah. Rather, in Jeremiah 31:15, the prophet is talking about the Babylonian captivity. He is talking about the tragic way Babylon slaughtered Judeans, man, woman, and child. When Nebuchadnezzar brought this destruction on Judah, Rachel wept for her children. This brings to mind the wife of Jacob who wept so long because she didn’t have children. Then she died in childbirth, weeping about her child, calling him the son of her sorrow. Under Babylonian judgment, she weeps again metaphorically over the lost children.

However, this bit of prophetic reminder isn’t simply trying to act like Jesus fulfilled this single verse. Rather, keep reading in Jeremiah. The whole point of that prophecy is that while there are tears for a season, there is actually little reason to weep and cry. God shall reward Judah. God shall restore Judah. God shall bring back Israel from the land of captivity.

There is hope for your future, declares the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country.

Jeremiah 31:17

No, God wasn’t going to bring those slaughtered children back to life in Matthew’s life time. But He was going to bring Jesus back. Jesus was going to come back from Egypt. But more than that. When He, like those little children, finally was executed, God would bring Him back. And that resurrection would pave the way for the resurrection of all those children and for us as well.

Rachel wept, but we can rejoice. Jesus didn’t just get executed, He was brought back.

Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Matthew 3.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
  2. Are you learning anything about how we should dig deeper when one of the New Testament writers says we are fulfilling an Old Testament prophet? If so, what?
  3. Why do you think Jeremiah uses Rachel as the example of one weeping for lost children?
  4. Why was it good to read not just Jeremiah 31:15, but to keep on reading the verses that followed? Are you glad we did?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?

Out of Egypt I Called My Son

Today’s reading is Matthew 2.

God warned Joseph in another dream that Herod was going to try to kill Jesus. It’s actually kind of shocking that God told Joseph to take Jesus to Egypt. Other than when Joseph the patriarch went down to Egypt and ended up saving Jacob’s family from the famine, God was pretty plain with Israel and Judah they were never to turn to Egypt for protection. Yet, when it comes to the Messiah, he goes right to the place God had told Israel over and over and over again to avoid. What’s up with that?

This was so Jesus could fulfill prophecy. After all Hosea 11:1 said, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” God had promised and foretold the Messiah would come out of Egypt. So, Jesus had to fulfill that promise, right? Actually, no. That isn’t what happened here at all. Hosea 11:1 wasn’t a promise about the Messiah. Go back and read it. It was actually not foretelling anything about anyone, let alone the Messiah. Rather, it was looking backwards. It was looking back to when Israel was held captive in Egypt and God brought them out with the 10 plagues. What’s up with that?

Sadly, this is a place many Christians miss what a truly profound statement Matthew is making. We have heard so many sermons about checklists of prophecies we read right through this in Matthew without even going back to look at the supposed promise. We think this is just one of another long list of forward looking promises to tell us who the Messiah is. But that is not what is happening here.

Yes, Jesus was fulfilling what was spoken by the prophet. But Jesus wasn’t fulfilling a foretelling promise. Jesus was fulfilling the very story of Israel. Jesus was fulfilling the very nature of prophecy. It was not just an issue of some forward looking statement on a checklist. It is an issue of representing the entire story of God’s people and His working with them. Jesus went into and came out of Egypt not because a particular promise said He would. He did so because that was the pattern of God’s dealing with His Son. Just as God’s Son Israel (see Exodus 4:22) went into Egypt to be protected from death and save God’s people from death, God’s Son Jesus did the same. He is following a pattern. He is fulfilling a story. He is representing Israel. He is walking the path Israel walked. You have to watch Him, however. He will do it without making the mistakes and committing the sins Israel made.

With this in mind, keep your eyes and ears open for ways in which Jesus fulfills not just particular promises, but the very story of Israel and the Scriptures.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 2.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
  2. What do you think of this idea of not only fulfilling prophecy, but Jesus fulfilling the very story of Israel?
  3. How is this idea of fulfilling the story of Israel taking prophecy fulfillment to a whole new level?
  4. Does it increase your faith to see that Jesus not only fulfilled some forward looking promises, but actually fulfilled the entire story of Scripture? Why or why not?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?

The Lies of Liars

Today’s reading is Matthew 2.

The wise men must have been excited. Herod was so helpful. He also wanted to know where this child born king of the Jews was. He called a counsel together to search the Hebrew scriptures and figure out where they were supposed to go. He sent them on their way with well wishes. He informed them he too wanted to worship. He asked them to return and let him know where they found the baby Messiah. What a great guy!

Actually, no. Herod was a wicked scoundrel. He was a liar. Every bit of this was lies. Had the wise men followed Herod’s request, it would have spelled certain doom for Jesus. (Well…actually God would have just rescued Jesus some other way.) We learn a simple lesson from this. Not everyone who claims to want to worship Jesus, really wants to worship Jesus. Some are just liars.

However, something deeper is happening. Think through what has occurred here. Herod actually believed something had really happened in Bethlehem. Herod believed the wise men that the Christ had been born. He believed the priests and scribes when they said it would happen in Bethlehem.

Of course, he didn’t believe it enough to actually follow the wise men to Jesus and fall on his face to worship Him. However, he believed it enough to not simply scoff at the wise men or ignore their report. He believed it enough to take action. He believed it enough to follow in the footsteps of that ancient king, Saul, who, having learned God’s chosen one was someone other than his own family, tried to kill Him instead of seeing Him rise to the throne.

Isn’t that amazing. Here was someone who believed, at least to some degree, but would rather have his own power. He believed in Biblical prophecy. He believed in signs in the stars. But he also believed he could stop God’s plans. Frankly, this was the biggest lie he told–the one he told himself.

That’s kind of the way liars are. After a while, they start to believe their own lies.

Don’t be a liar. Be a wise man instead.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 2.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
  2. Why do people lie?
  3. Why is honesty and truth better?
  4. What advice would you give others to be honest even when it hurts?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?

The Wisdom of Wise Men

Today’s reading is Matthew 2.

What made these foreign travelers wise? Oh, no doubt, they had some special role in their eastern courts. They were surely studied and educated. They no doubt were able to counsel kings and governors. Perhaps they even had some kind of religious acumen. I’m sure the kings of whatever lands they came from thought these men could interpret dreams, read the stars, and even foresee the future.

But none of this made these men wise. Two things demonstrated these men as wise.

First, they worshiped Jesus.

Second, they obeyed God instead of the king.

Frankly, there isn’t much more to say about wisdom. If we want to be wise, it is just that simple. Worship Jesus, and obey God instead of man. That’s all the wisdom any of us need.

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 2.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
  2. Why is worshiping Jesus wise?
  3. Why is obeying God rather than men wise?
  4. What advice would you give others to help us overcome our temptation to obey people rather than God?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?

A Ruler from Bethlehem

Today’s reading is Matthew 2.

Some time after Jesus was born, wise men showed up in Jerusalem. Somehow, they had learned about the birth of a king of the Jews. No doubt, they ended up in Jerusalem because where else would a person not familiar with the Old Testament expect the king of the Jews to be born? However, no one had heard of His birth.

So, Herod assembled the chief priests and scribes to find out where the Christ was to be born. They pulled Micah 5:2 as the go-to promise for the Messiah’s birthplace. They would find the Messiah, if He had been born, in Bethlehem of Judah. God had promised a ruler and shepherd would come from there.

If I were a skeptic, I would point out it really isn’t too surprising that Micah would choose Bethlehem, the city from which David came, as the city in which the Son of David is supposed to be born. That being said, we do have to admit, if Jesus was a fake, He couldn’t engineer His birthplace just to fit a prophecy. Guess it was just lucky He hit the jackpot on that one.

However, there is actually something a bit more powerful than the fulfillment of just this one verse. When we go back to Micah and start reading the on-going prophecy, we see some really profound connections. Micah’s prophecy switches back and forth between the judgment that was going to come on Judah and the hope of salvation that was coming. Back up to Micah 4:1-2 and notice this:

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the House of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come… (ESV).

Wow! You mean this prophecy that says the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, also talks about nations coming to seek the Lord? You mean just like these wise men from other nations coming to seek the king of the Jews?

Then notice Micah 4:9:

Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pain seized you like a woman in labor? (ESV).

No doubt, Micah was talking about the judgment coming on Judah by Babylon. However, see how this connects to Matthew 2. The wise men travel to Jerusalem. They talk to Herod the pretend king of the Jews. But Herod wasn’t a Jew. He was a pretender. He was an Idumean (an Edomite). There was actually no king in Israel when Jesus was born. There was a fake, a Roman pawn and puppet who actually caused Judah and the Jews a great deal of pain and mourning.

There is so much more to this prophecy than just that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. When Matthew brings this prophecy to our mind, He demonstrates Jesus is fulfilling more than a verse on a checklist. Rather, He fits the bill. He fits the story. He fits the expectations fully.

Jesus is not just the son of David, son of Abraham, son of man, son of God as we learned last week. He is the son of Prophecy and Promise.

He is the Messiah! Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 2.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
  2. Why is prophecy important for faith in Jesus?
  3. Did you notice it wasn’t simply Matthew telling us about this prophecy from Micah? Who actually knew that prophecy? What does that tell us about the expectations of Israel at that time?
  4. How convincing is fulfilled prophecy to you that Jesus is the Messiah?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?