Thursday, January 5, 2017

Matthew 3:13-17 Baptism for Righteousness

KEY TEXT: Matthew 3:16-17 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

KEY THOT: When Jesus came to be baptized by John, John initially refused: "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" (v.14). John said that to imply that Jesus was higher than he and also that Jesus was without sin and therefore need no baptism of repentance. But Jesus' answer reveals that baptism is not just a rite (negatively) to wash away sins but to also a rite (positively) to "fulfill all righteousness". Baptism not only cleanses us from sin but also sanctifies us for righteousness. And this sanctification is initiated by (1) the Spirit's empowerment: "the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him" (2) the affirmation of sonship: "This is my beloved Son, with whom i am well pleased." So, for Jesus, baptism was not for repentance (since he has no sin) but for righteousness through the Spirit's empowerment and the Father's affirmation of his sonship. And being the "firstborn among many brothers (sisters)", he transformed John's baptism of repentance from sins into the Christian baptism of reception of righteousness from God through the reception of the Spirit and the resulting sonship. 

From Jesus onwards, the baptism is no longer just for forgiveness of sins alone but for righteousness which includes the reception of the Holy Spirit whereby we cry out "Abba, Father!". That is why baptism is an important step in our spiritual journey--not just for cleansing from sins but to receive the affirmation of the Father's love and to receive the gift of His Spirit as hands are laid on the baptism candidate after the baptism (Acts 19:6). This practice is still retained in liturgical churches at part of the baptism rite.

Father God, thank You that You that through baptism, You not only wash away our sins but also offer us Your righteousness through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your comments.