The Father's Pleasure in His Son

Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 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; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

It is exciting this morning for us to go to Matthew 3:13 because we finally get to see our Lord, our Savior in this gospel text. I say finally – we did see Him at His birth in chapter 1, as a baby in chapter 2. We know of His flight to Egypt, He and His family in chapter 2, and then resettlement in Nazareth in chapter 2 as well.

But in chapter 3 verses 13-17, we move to a new place, we begin to see Jesus now as a man entering into His incredible ministry, His journey interacting with people, teaching others, His miraclous signs and wonders, we get to see Him pray, will see Him mourn, we will see Him as the King of the ages, and as a poor man without a home. His public ministry begins now in Matthew 3:13. This is where we are in the text, and I am excited about seeing Him for who He is and better understanding even who we are as we move along this path together.

We get to see Jesus. It was at the Jordan where Jesus comes on to the scene. We have looked at John the Baptist's ministry of making a way for Jesus. He was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 40, readying the hearts of the people for the Messiah. And as John was faithfully doing what God had called him to do, Jesus showed up. Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John. Why did He come? To be baptized by John.

We hear John’s response and we can just imagine what he may have been feeling. He was not the Messiah, he came to point people to the Messiah. His mission was to prepare people for the coming of Jesus, his message was one of repentance, and his baptism was an outward expression of a repentant heart. John was here as a way of saying that people are really messed up. People are messed up and in need of change. This has been true ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. When they sinned, they opened the floodgate so to speak and sin entered the world, and began to corrupt everything.

In Romans, as a description of the effect of sin in the world, it says:

Romans 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Similarly in 2 Corinthians we read:

2 Corinthians 5:2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling...4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Sin has messed up this world and the people in it. And so here comes John to say, "Wait, know this: the Messiah, the Savior is coming and He will deliver us from this state that we are in. He will provide for us a way to God. He will make it possible that we can escape the ultimate consequence of sin." "Recognize your need," that is what John was communicating. "See your need, know of your depraved state and repent, make a way for the Savior into your heart, into your life. Do this actively." And for those who did repent, then, "Make it known, be baptized." Baptism was an outward sign of repentance of sin.

And so in the midst of this message, this is when Jesus comes to him saying, "Here I am, baptize me." The big question in my mind would be...why? I get why all the other people needed to be baptized, but why Jesus? John too seemed perplexed. His response was understandable:

Matthew 3:14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

John knew who Jesus was. He knew Jesus was a man but he also knew of His divine nature. It was easy to see that everyone else needed baptizing, and John was willing to do that – but Jesus?

In John’s gospel, when Jesus came, John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” This clearly indicates that John knew of Jesus' purpose, and not just His purpose but His nature.

In Matthew 11:11 Jesus said of John the Baptist, "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist." No one greater than John and yet, John knew that Jesus was not just man, but God. John was aware of his sinfulness and of Jesus' sinlessness. John’s words are a testimony of the perfection of Jesus. John was only a prophet, Jesus was the perfect one.

Why did Jesus submit Himself to an act that represented a turning from sin? Why did the sinless one submit to an act that seems unnecessary for Him personally? Well, Jesus tells us in verse 15: “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

How was this baptism fitting to fulfill all righteousness? I must say that Jesus doesn't tell us specifically, directly, so we don't know entirely for sure. But there are a couple things this seems to mean.

First, it seems that it was in order to give an example to Jesus' followers. Jesus modeled obedience in every way for His followers. He did not come to simply talk about obedience or to command that others obey, but He lived as an example of obedience. He affirms here that what John was doing, what John was preaching really was from God and in line with God’s will. He modeled obedience.

Also, Jesus came into this world the way He came as a baby, He grew as a child, He subjected Himself to natural laws and even the laws of man – in His life, in His walk, He willingly and purposefully identified with mankind. He identified with sinful mankind, not as a sinner Himself but identifying with their sin. Isaiah said that Jesus was “numbered with transgressors.” Jesus' baptism was a willing identifying Himself with sinful people that He came to save.

This is an incredible thought, one that may be really hard for us to take in, the fact that Jesus was willing to identify with and walk alongside sinful people. I mean think about yourself. Are there people who you will shun because, well, their lives are too messy for you? We may think we are above certain people or kinds of people, so we do all that we can to stay away from them and to not identify with them. Almost like, "Well, I know they are people and I am a person, but, I’m not that kind of person," and so we create in our minds distinctions that keep us away from others.

And yet Jesus, the perfect and holy one, does not just reach down to us, but comes down to be with us. He walked among us, lived like us, identified with us. He became our Shepherd and treats us with care as His sheep. Instead of being repulsed, He chooses to care for, to provide, and to enter into our lives, not just to be with us but to be a part of us. Not just for a time, a short time, like a short-term mission trip to minister to the poor, but an eternal relationship, bound with us forever!

We are the poor, we are the helpless, we are the lost, and Jesus chose to come and identify with us in all our loneliness. Jesus was the friend of sinners.

And so John consented, he baptized Jesus. Jesus has identified with us.

Matthew 3:16 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; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

We see a picture of the full unity of the Godhead, of the Trinity. We see the unified work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in this plan of the redemption of those who will be saved. The Spirit descended on Jesus “like a dove” and came to rest on Him. This had been promised to John, as we can read in John 1.

John 1:33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

This was an anointing by the Spirit, spoken of by Isaiah.

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,

Christ, though He was divine, was empowered by the Holy Spirit, and this confirmation was given in this visible sign to John and the others who were there. There would be no doubt that Jesus was truly the Messiah.

The Spirit descending like a dove was confirmation of the Messiahship of Jesus, and yet there was more. The voice of the Father came out of the heavens, and what the Father proclaims confirms in our own hearts the truth, and offers unquestionable confidence for all who will believe. The Father said these words: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The fact that Jesus is the beloved Son of God is central to the gospel. Listen to this from Hebrews 1, meditate with me on the person of Jesus Christ from this passage.

Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? 6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” 7 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” 8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

This is Jesus, this is the one of whom the Father said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." I would like for us to consider what this means for us.

Colossians 3:3 says, "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." There is this truth for the Christian that our lives are now in Christ, we are hidden in Christ. We live in Him. He is our life. When Jesus gave Himself for us, when we believed, we became spiritually hidden in Him. It is like He stands in front of us and we are hidden in His shadow. When God looks upon us, He sees His Son, His Son’s work, His Son’s holiness. He sees the one of whom He said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." This is the only way we can be righteous before the Father, the only way is that He sees Christ, His beloved Son.

This should encourage us to boldly live for Him. This should keep us from hopeless living just thinking only of our own personal failures. Why? Because we are hidden with Christ. He becomes our strength, our will to go on, our encouragement for obedient living. He becomes what we need to live in holiness, to love others, to forgive, to grant mercy.

It is in Christ that we can come boldly before the throne of grace in prayer to the Father, it is only because Christ is in us, and for us, and with us, and we are in Him, hidden in Him.

When we read this passage and we see the pleasure that God takes in His Son, we must put ourselves as Christians in the picture and with joy, worship God who has redeemed and rescued us from ourselves and from His wrath.

We only please the Father because of Christ in us. Praise and worship to Christ Jesus who willingly came, identifying with us as sinners, who lived a perfect life, an example for us, who died to redeem us, and who lives with us, resurrected, who will live with us forever. He is our hope, He is our strength.

Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 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; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”