Prepare the Way

While Matthew, Mark and Luke all record Jesus’ coming to be baptized by John, only Matthew notes John’s reluctance: But John tried to deter {Jesus} saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ With this but we have further evidence that John saw his ministry of baptism as symbolically pointing to and preparing the way for the greater work of Jesus to follow. Jesus assured John that it was proper. He said that in doing this it would fulfill all righteousness. Somehow Jesus was identifying with those being baptized by John, and all who would, one day, be baptized in his name.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all include that, as Jesus came up out of the water, the voice of God spoke audible words of testimony about Jesus: “This is my Son whom I love. With him I am well pleased.”  This event is significant. It’s one of only a few places in all of Scripture where God is recorded to have spoken forth from heaven in His own voice. It is further noteworthy that the gospel writers all record that, upon this occasion, all three—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—were brought together in one setting. The Apostle John records in chapter 12 of his gospel that it was in this convergence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit at Jesus’ baptism that John the Baptist found confirmation of Jesus’ identity.

The words of Matthew chapter 3 set the stage for the ministry of Jesus to begin. Later in Matthew’s gospel we will see Jesus Himself declare that it was from the days of John the Baptist that the Kingdom of Heaven was forcefully advancing. The long promised and long awaited forerunner had arrived and had begun to prepare the way. Jesus steps to the front of the crowd coming to be baptized and identifies with them. God’s voice and the testimony of heaven came together to wonderfully authenticate Jesus. May all heed the announcement: the kingdom of heaven is near!

an excerpt from chapter three, Big Buts of the Bible: A Revealing Look at Jesus Christ