10. Righteousness

Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 10  (Matthew 3:13-17)

No sooner did John promise One greater would come after him, the Messiah (Christ), than Jesus appears with a request that defied all expectations.

Then Jesus appeared at the Jordan River, arriving from Galilee, and he wanted to be baptized by John.  John wanted to prevent it from happening and said, “I need to be baptized by you, and you’re coming to me?!”

Jesus answered, “Let it be this way. It perfectly fits within God’s will to fulfill all righteous requirements.”  So John allowed it.

After being buried in the waters, Jesus immediately came up out of the water and the heavens opened up and he saw God’s Spirit descending and landing on him like a dove. A commanding voice from heaven spoke: “This is my precious, beloved Son.  I am so happy with him!”  (Matthew 3:13-17)

Jesus comes to John to be baptized.  John recognizes Jesus as greater than him, holier than him and having no need of repentance.  John wished to submit to Jesus baptizing him.  Jesus shows John it is not for repentance, but for righteousness, to fulfill God’s will.  John consents.

Jesus comes out of the water, heaven is opened,  Jesus sees the Spirit of God descending like a dove and landing on him.  And there is a voice from heaven:  “This is my son, the one I love; I am so pleased with Him.”  This is Matthew’s first mention of Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ baptism is not a nice ceremony, a religious formality.  It was a radical declaration of Gods kingdom, His righteousness, and the upside-down order of things. Those in the lead – religious leaders, teachers, priests, and even Jesus himself come to John, and the prophet has a word for each of them.  To Jesus, John said, “ I’m not worthy.  I need to be baptized by you!”  Jesus doesn’t disagree with him, but maintains there is something higher – Gods righteousness – to be fulfilled.

Baptism is immediately affirmed by blessing: open heaven, Spirit descending, Father’s blessing.  This Son of David and son of Abraham, son of Joseph and Mary, is also the Son of God.  Born king of the Jews, He is now anointed to reign in God’s power.

What is God asking you to fulfill today?  Seek God’s righteousness by doing it.  Where is God’s blessing, are you seeking it through obedience?

Prayer:  God, teach me humility, to listen to You and not my own reason (like John).  Lead me to fulfill Your righteousness — I seek Your will today. 

God, thank you for Your gracious gift, for open heavens and for the outpouring of Your Spirit, for Your good pleasure and for calling me Your child.  Fill me with purpose today and strengthen my resolve to do Your will, even when the cost seems high.  I trust Your blessing is even greater than any cost I could bear.

Travel tip:  You have made it through three chapters of Matthew.  Did you know that the chapters and verses were not originally in the Bible, but only added centuries later to help in finding specific places in scripture?  Like road markers for distance (miles or kilometers depending on where you are), the verses and chapters mark our progress through the book.  What kind of progress are you making in praying through the scripture?  If it is difficult or disorienting, turn that into a prayer to God and ask him to clear things up.  Tomorrow’s stop:  the wilderness!