Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jesus' First Words in Matthew

Matthew 3:13-17 - "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?' Jesus replied, 'Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.' Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'"

Yesterday was the first day that I had not blogged in quite a while. It was kind of nice. My regular blog readers know that for a period of 176 days (I think it was more like 180 due to some time in Guatemala), I blogged through Psalm 119. Those 176 days were sweet times with the Lord. He taught me much about His law and His word. He put within me a desire to read His Word more than I ever have. As I thought what my days might look like after 176 days in one Psalm, I thought, "I'd like to read and blog on each of the recoreded Words that we have that Jesus spoke."

I've spent a good deal of time thinking about how to accomplish this task. In the end, I've decided to read the words of Christ from Matthew-Acts, and then take a look at the few other places we see the words of Jesus of Scripture (Revelation and the Old Testament Christophanies, for example).

Unlike my journey through Psalm 119, these devotional readings will not be commented on verse by verse. Rather, I will try to comment on them in the context of the teaching, many times paragraph by paragraph or story by story.

I'm excited about this next step in my devotional journey, and I'm happy to have so many of you that want to take this journey with me. I thought about trying to make this a chronilogical journey through the teachings of Christ, but there is much dispute about if this is even possible. Those who have tried to figure out the chronology of Jesus' words cannot agree as to when Jesus said all the things that He said. So, I am just going to do this in the order in which they appear in Scripture (saving the Old Testament accounts for last).

So, here we go!

The book of Matthew is a special book. The first Gospel in the New Testament, it was not the first Gospel written. That distincition belongs to the Gospel of Mark, which could also be called the Gospel of Peter, for it was written based upon the Apostle Peter's memories of his time with Christ. Matthew was written to a distinct group of people; the nation of Israel. And, as such, it begins with the genealogy of Jesus through the line of Joseph. Luke's Gospel records the genealogy of Jesus through the line of Mary.

It takes almost three entire chapters before we read the first words of Jesus spoken in this book. Jesus' words as a 12-year-old boy are recorded in Luke 2, so if we were doing a strictly chronilogical approach to this study, Matthew's words would not be the first words that we would choose.

So, what are the words that Matthew records? "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."

Curious words! The setting? John the Baptist is baptizing in the Jordan River. Large crowds have been following John and listening to his preaching for some time now. John's call? To prepare the way for Jesus. Now, Jesus and John are face-to-face. Jesus had obviously made it known that He wanted to be baptized by John, and John feels unworthy to baptize Jesus, and even suggests that Jesus should baptize him. That's when Jesus responds with the first words of Christ that we see in the New Testament: "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."

Jesus shows us with His first words that He was about doing that which was proper and right in the eyes of God, the Father. His life brought glory to the Father.

Steve Shepherd, in his message entitled, Why Jesus Came, wrote the following words about this passage:

Obviously, Jesus was not baptized for the same reason we might do it. At Pentecost, Peter told the multitude in Acts 2:38, “"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus had no sins for which to be forgiven.

I Pet. 2:22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

Why was Jesus baptized? Jesus answered this question for us.

Matt. 3:15 “Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.”

Jesus wanted to do everything that was righteous or right in His Father’s eyes. God ordained or authorized John’s baptism so Jesus humbled Himself and submitted to John’s baptism.


Jesus' first recorded words have many implications for us.

1) We need to submit to the will of the Father.
2) Baptism is a good and proper thing for the follower of Chirst.
3) Pursuing the righteousness of God is not just and Old Testament thing. God wants us to continually pursue Him.

If Jesus was about pursuing the will of the Father, so should we. May we learn much from His words.

Dear God,

You amaze me! Sometimes I feel like John. I wonder why You needed to be baptized. You are perfect, without sin, and yet You wanted to be baptized. Help us to understand. Help us to learn. Help us to live, for Your glory!

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

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