MATTHEW 3: THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
John the Baptist was a prophet whose very clear purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus Christ by calling for people to repent of their sins and baptize them.
John called out disobedient Jews and warned them that God would cut them down like an ax cutting down fruit trees that do not produce good fruit, and he will throw them into the fire.
There's lots of burning in this chapter, so as you read it slowly, don't miss these harsh warnings.
When John was baptizing, Jesus came to be baptized, too. John couldn't hide his surprise that Jesus would come for baptism: John knew something was different, special, maybe even of the divine about Jesus. John says, "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
My favorite part of this chapter, however, is where Jesus is baptized. This is a huge moment, and it's important to be aware that this is the first time we see a very real, visual image of what the early church would later call the "Trinity." The Trinity is not a word in the Bible but refers to the presence of God as one in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The baptism of Jesus is an amazing moment of the Trinity, where all three persons of the Trinity are there, right before the our eyes, relating to one another in love as they have eternally. When Jesus was baptized, heaven opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. Then a voice from heaven said, "This is my son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17, NIV)
We pray to you the God who is revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the baptism of Jesus. Father, can we experience the pleasure for us as your children as you show toward your Son?
Be baptized. If you've never been baptized, you have a saving experience ahead of you. We follow Jesus into the waters of baptism. In this moment we can experience the same kind of approval, love, community, and salvation of God that Jesus experienced when the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus and the Father said, "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased." When I baptized my children, I spoke these words over them, and another action step for Christian leaders is to speak these approving, loving, beautiful words over persons being baptized: "You are God's child, and in you He is well pleased!"
Greg Taylor is the preacher for The Journey. He's been with the church since 2005 and has preached since 2009. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.