Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to Jordan, to John, to be baptized by him. 14 but John restrained Him, saying, I have need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me? 15 and answering Jesus said to him, allow it now, for it is becoming to us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he allowed Him.
At this point the cousin of Christ has been passionately preparing the way for the coming of the Lord by preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God; calling all men to repentance of their sins and be baptized as a public confession of faith with boldness and a type of authority which can only be given by the grace of God to do His mighty works. Repentance of sins is still the fundamental message we need to bring to all men as we witness for Christ; if there is going to be hope for salvation. Preaching a gospel without repentance is no gospel at all; and never assume that repenting from a sin means that you will never commit that same sin again. In fact never say as Peter said to Christ in Matthew 26:33 that all these men may be offended of thee, but not Peter. In other words Peter was claiming that he would never be ashamed of Christ in public, yet he denied Jesus Christ as a consequence of shame and perhaps fear. How many times have we been ashamed of Christ in public? How many times have we turned down our Christian music in front of unbelievers? How many times have we lowered your voice in front of people when speaking about Christ in public? The true theological perspective of Romans 10:9,10 confession; is warranted with all its validity when confessed out in public where there may be hostility toward the Gospel of Christ. Anybody can be moved by motivating words and soft music to profess Christ in the church, but if you are ashamed of Christ in public; then you may want to test yourself to see if you have truly been born again from the Spirit of God. So never say I will never sin a sin; you do not know what God’s sovereign will has planned for your life. Instead do as James instructs us in
James 4:13-15; Come now, those saying, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city and spend a year there, and we will trade and will make a profit,14 who do not know of the morrow. For what is your life? For it is a vapor, which appears for a little time, and then disappears. 15 Instead of you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.
If the Lord wills I will not commit this sin, and pray and pray that God gives you the Grace not to sin such a sin.
1John 1:8 reads; If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
What is truth? Christ is truth and the source of truth. If you claim you have no sin, or in other words think that your sins are not that bad, or that God doesn’t take some of your transgression seriously, then to those they have not yet known true repentance, they deceive themselves; the truth is not in them and they yet do not know Christ. True repentance is an acknowledgement that the Gospel of Christ is true, and with that comes the acknowledgement that we are born in sin, and we therefore continually disobey God and are in need of salvation from Christ lest we go to hell. Repentance comes with the remorse, regret, and desires to want to obey God as we love and follow Jesus Christ; with the understanding that Christ obeyed God’s commandments for our sake and on the cross became what God hates most; “sin” because God took the sins of the world and imputed them on His Son.
2Corinthians 5:21 says; For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Therefore, we are forgiven because Christ defeated your sin for you if you believe in Christ. Repentance does not mean that you no longer sin; neither does it mean that you have the ability not to sin; but that you live everyday of your life with the attempt to repent daily, as we die to our sins daily, because we believe in the Gospel of Christ.
In verse 13 and 14; Jesus comes to John the Baptist to be baptized. An important quality, I believe should be realized about John the Baptist; is his humility. Humility; as an adjective is to be humble, meaning to be modest and recognize that as a sinner you are actually lower than what your pride makes you think you are. Humility is the opposite of pride and arrogance.
Proverbs 18:12 reads; Before shattering, the heart of man is proud, and before honor is humility
1Peter 5:5 Likewise, younger ones, be subject to older ones, and all being subject to one another. Put on humility. For God resists proud ones, but He gives grace to the humble.
John had great reason to be arrogant, yet he developed an incredible reputation as a man of God. God gave to John the Baptist what no other man in scripture is recorded to have since they were in their mother’s womb; the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:15 reads; For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall neither drink wine nor strong drink. And he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
John the Baptist was baptized of the Holy Spirit since he was a baby. God predestinated him as a model of sanctification. Listen to how Jesus spoke of him in
Matthew 11:9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yea, I say to you, and one more excellent than a prophet.
Referring to John as a prophet was a noble title and many believed that he was, but according to Christ the title of prophet did not express enough insight to what he truly was. Christ continues in verse 11 and says, “Truly I say to you, among those who have been born of women there has not risen a greater one than John the Baptist.” English Puritan and expositor of the bible; Matthew Henry in his commentary to this verse writes:
“Christ knew how to value persons according to the degrees of their worth, and he prefers John before all that went before him, before all that were born of women by ordinary generation. Of all that God had raised up and called to any service in his church, John is the most eminent, (standing above other in quality or position) even beyond Moses himself; for he began to preach the gospel doctrine of remission of sins to those who are truly penitent; (those who truly seek repentance) and he had more signal revelations from heaven than any of them had; for he saw heaven opened, and the Holy Ghost descend. He also had great success in his ministry; almost the whole nation flocked to him: none rose on so great a design, or came on so noble an errand, as John did, or had such claims to a welcome reception. Many had been born of women that made a great figure in the world, but Christ prefers John before them. Note, Greatness is not to be measured by appearances and outward splendour, but they are the greatest men who are the greatest saints, and the greatest blessings, who are, as John was, great in the sight of the Lord,” (Henry).
I especially enjoy what Christ said in verses 7 and 8, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft clothing? Behold, they who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
Did you expect to find a man in the wilderness speaking inconsistently with no stability, as a reed is unstable as the wind blows? No! John the Baptist was a man whose house was built on a solid foundation of Christ which could not be shaken. The man was a vessel formed by God as the Potter to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. Showing no fear or tameness in front of opposition by calling men to repentance of their transgressions and be baptized. John; being filled immensely with the Holy Spirit since his birth; he lived a sanctified life for the purpose of God, casting all vain cares to the waste side he did not concern himself with his own garments. He had 20/20 vision for the Lord and that was all. He was an exalted man by name and reputation yet still he was incredibly humble. When Jesus Christ came to him to be baptized John saw himself unworthy to baptize the Son of God. He said no; I need to be baptized of you. Why? Why would John request this? John the Baptist said in
Matthew 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water to repentance. But He who comes after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
John the Baptist desired a baptism from Christ because what he desired was not a baptism of water, but of the Holy Spirit; even though he already had a great measure of it. This is because; the more Holy Spirit you have, the more and more you recognize how much of a sinner you are, and realize you need more and more Spirit of God.
Proverbs 8:13 reads; The fear of Jehovah is to hate evil; I hate pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the wicked mouth.
John the Baptist in His humility denies being baptized of Jesus Christ, so that John may be baptized of Christ with a baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ replies with “allow it now, or as the King James renders it, “suffer it to be so now” which is more close to the language of the Old Testament. Notice in the scripture that Christ did not rebuke John for not wanting to Baptist Christ. Christ knowing the hearts of all men can see that John was sincerely humble at his request. Yet Christ commanded that John baptize Christ and John obeyed. Jesus could have easily baptized John after the baptism of Christ if He so chose too, but Christ knew that the time for the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not yet at hand. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is not spoken of until Acts 1 verses four through eight; where Jesus explains to His Apostles to wait for the promise of the Father, that in just days from then they would receive power from the Holy Ghost after the Apostles are baptized of the Spirit. This power of the Holy Spirit that was given to them was for one purpose and one purpose only; that purpose remains to this very day, and the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s empowerment is to take the Gospel of Christ throughout all the nations baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is the power that we all ought to pray for from the Spirit of God every day; that we may preach and teach the Gospel of Christ effectively where ever we go so that God may draw men to salvation, and that is the gift that all who want to preach the Gospel ought to pray for. I may pray that the Holy Spirit may empower me in other ways as well, but to me the other gifts are secondary in comparison to preaching the Gospel of Christ. If there was only one gift to have; then let it be the ability to preach the Gospel unadulterated and teaching sound doctrine, if the Lord so wills.
Now; Christ said, “allow it now, for it is becoming to us to fulfill all righteousness.” What is meant by righteousness? Righteousness coincides with justification, which in Easton’s Bible Dictionary is defined as; “the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law, i.e., as conformed to all its demands,” (Easton).
Leviticus 18:4,5 You shall do My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them. I am Jehovah your God. 5 and you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live in them. I am Jehovah.
Psalms 9:8 and he shall judge the world in righteousness; he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
These verses lay out the standard of God in order to be justified; meaning to be legally pardoned of sin and declared righteous. This is an impossible task because God’s righteous standard for justification is for man to keep every ordinance, statute, and commandment or else suffer the wages of sin in hell. Impossible; no man in history from the first man Adam to our day has fulfilled God’s perfect law except one; the second Adam Jesus Christ. Our first Adam failed as our representative and through his disobedience came sin and death. Yet through our second Adam sin and death was defeated, and the righteousness of God was fulfilled.
When Jesus Christ said to John; to allow His baptism to fulfill all righteousness, not only did he mean to be baptized as an example for everyone to follow, though it is true. Not only to show respect to John the Baptist, though it is true. Not only to begin His ministry and fulfill the will of God, to fulfill the shadow of the Old Testament sacrifice, which the Jews practiced through their ceremonial rituals given to them by God, in order to express their faith in the coming Messiah, not only to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies of the anticipated Messiah, but the most profound concept about Christ’s proposition of fulfilling God’s righteousness is that He came to be the only one in all of existence able to obey God’s commandments and become the manifested righteousness of God.
We know now that in order to be justified in the sight of God; we have to obey all of God’s commandments without flaw. If we are not capable, then God would have to pardon us and legally declare us righteous, which is impossible because the Holiness of God demands that He condemns sin. Therefore, in order for the remission of sin to be effective, someone else needs to make atonement for us, in other words; reconcile us with God. Now God demands two things; the condemnation of sin, and perfect obedience to the law, and so therefore Jesus Christ is sent by God to fulfill all righteousness by fully obeying all of God’s law; while simultaneously being the victim of God’s wrath by being placed on the cross and becoming sin; the thing which God hates most, and so the justice of God was satisfied. This was done for you and I who believe in Christ.
Romans 4:6-8 Even as David also says of the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness without works, 7 saying, “Blessed are those whose lawlessness are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man to whom the Lord will in no way impute sin.”
In these passages we see the word impute, which means to attribute or credit too. To use it as an adjective; imputed in a sentence which correlates with tonight’s doctrine is, all men are guilty because Adam’s sin was imputed to all men. In the same sense; all who believe in Christ are now righteous because the righteous work of His obedience to God was imputed on all who believe in Christ through faith. Another proper one is; the sins of all who believe in Christ were imputed on Jesus Christ who then became sin for us on the cross. And so the passage in Romans 4:6 reads; “blessed is the man to whom God imputes righteousness without works,” Meaning blessed is whoever God credits as righteous without his obedience to the law. “Blessed are those whose lawlessness are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man to whom the Lord will in no way impute sin.”
Romans 10:3,4 For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for everyone who believes.
Who are they in verse three? They are the Jews; the Pharisees who were ignorant of the righteousness of God because they failed to recognize the Messiah, and the work of atonement He came to do. The Pharisees establish their own righteousness means that, since they do not believe in Christ; they fail to recognize that the laws which the Pharisees are trying to labor rigorously in keeping, was already fulfilled by Jesus Christ, and in order for them to be declared righteous in the sight of God; all they need to do is repent and believe. Since they do not; then they seek to establish their own righteousness, which will lead them straight to hell, and the same will be for all who attempt to gain salvation in false religion through their own works of false righteousness just as the Pharisees.
2Corinthians 5:21 For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Matthew 5:20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
The Pharisees were the most learned scholars of the Old Testament. They knew the laws of God by memory and they counted their obedience to that law as righteous, which was difficult to meet for the common man. So when the unregenerate man heard this proposal from Christ; they thought it impossible. But for us who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God; we now know that our righteousness does exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees because we believe in Christ and the righteousness of Christ has been imputed on us, and we are now the righteousness of God and will enter heaven, while the righteousness of the Pharisees is in vain because they still seek salvation by the works of the law, which is no righteousness at all, and will not enter heaven.
Since the day our Lord Jesus Christ partook of His baptism; He was set forth by the Spirit of God to achieve the impossible. Christ became the savior of the world by His obedience to the will of the Father. Being the Son of God the Father declared at His baptism that He was well pleased in the Son, because finally someone was about to fulfill the righteousness of God. Thanks to Christ we have been set free from the law, which demanded from us perfect obedience resulting in the consequence of disobedience condemning us to hell. Now through the atonement of Christ we may walk serve God through the Spirit of God, and not be oppressed by primitive works unto salvation.
Romans 7:6 But now we having been set free from the Law, having died to that in which we were held, so that we serve in newness of spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
No longer are we held in bondage of the law, which reveals to us our sin and condemns us under the justice of God; but now we are dead to the law, not in the sense that sin is dead, neither that we no longer sin, but we no longer have to look to the law to appease the righteousness of God; we never have we never could. We now serve God in the newness of spirit because we now look to Jesus Christ instead of the law. We no longer walk in the oldness of the letter, which is the Old Covenant, but we walk in the newness of spirit because we walk in the righteousness of God, which was imputed to us by Christ. We have been freed; freed in the sense that Jesus Christ has reconciled us to the living God. We were enemies of God but were made His servants by the work of Christ. We have been freed; freed in the sense that for all who believe in Christ are now free to love and obey Jesus Christ. To God and Christ give all the glory.