The Baptism of Jesus

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Since Jesus was sinless, why did He need to be baptized? Join Pastor Steve as he looks at Mark 1:9-11.

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We are looking again at Mark’s gospel
Today we are considering verses 9-11 of chapter 1
Mark moves from the preaching and baptism of John to the baptism of Jesus
Listen to verses 9-11
Mark 1:9–11 NASB95
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

I. The Time (v.9a)

“In those days”

A. Matthew 3:1 begins with the same phrase

The NIV translates it “At that time”
This is referring to an unspecified point during John’s ministry
John had been baptizing before Jesus’ baptism for six months or longer (MacArthur)
So Jesus...

B. Jesus initiated the meeting

He came when the time was right for Him to make His public appearance
According to Luke 3:23, He was about thirty years old when He came from Nazareth in Galilee to be baptized and begin His ministry (MacArthur)

II. The Place (v.9b)

“Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan”

A. Jesus was from Nazareth

Matthew 2:23 says He lived there: “and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.””
Luke 4:16 says He was brought up there: “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up...”
Nazareth was a small village located in the region of Galilee
It was about 70 miles North of Jerusalem (MacArthur)
This was largely populated by Gentiles
It also had an unfavorable reputation - John 1:45-46, “45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.””
This may be a local proverb expressing jealousy among the towns (NETBFEN)
Or it was an insignificant village without seeming prophetic importance (MacArthur)
Nathaniel knew nothing of any mention of Nazareth with regard to the Messiah in the law of Moses and in the prophetic promises to which Philip had made such strong references (Lenski)
Albert Barnes says, “The character of Nazareth was proverbially bad. To be a Galilean or a Nazarene was an expression of decided contempt.”
Remember John 7:52, The Pharisees answered Nicodemus saying, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.””
This small village was so obscure that it’s not mentioned in any ancient Jewish literature of the first century
It was not even mentioned in the Old Testament, by Josephus, or in the Talmud (Hiebert)
So Mark accommodates his Jewish readers by adding “In Galilee” so they may know where Nazareth lies (Lenski)
Mark says...

B. Jesus came to the Jordan River

This is where John was baptizing (v.5; Mat.3:6)
This was at the height of John’s ministry
Luke 3:21, “Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized...”
I remind you that the Greek word baptizo means “to dip, to plunge, to immerse something in water”
This is the commonly recognize and standard meaning of the term in ancient Greek literature both inside and outside the Bible (Grudem)
“Immerse” makes better since here
Verse 9 says that Jesus “was baptized by John in the Jordan
The preposition “in” (en) means “in,” not “beside” or “by” or “near” the river” (Grudem)
It is a preposition of motion (Wuest)
Jesus and John went “in the Jordan” (v.9)
Verse 10 says they came “up out of the water”
“Up” (ek) means He “out of”, not that He came away from it
The fact that John and Jesus went into the river and came up out of it strongly suggests immersion (Grudem)
Acts 8:38-39 uses similar language: “38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.”
Baptism by immersion is the only satisfactory explanation of this narrative (Grudem)
We said last time that...
Immersion best describes the symbolism of our union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection
Romans 6:3-4, “3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Paul uses this same language in Colossians 2:12, “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
The mode of baptism is immersion not sprinkling
And to state again what I said last time, baptism does not save you from sin
It symbolizes the work of Christ just mention in His burial and resurrection
It also symbolizes cleansing from sin
Acts 22:16, “‘Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’”
Both the Jews and Gentiles understood this
To prepare for the Messiah’s arrival, you had to repent and be baptized demonstrating a washing away of your sins and your trust in the coming One for salvation
John understood how important baptism was that’s why it was called a “baptism of repentance” (v.4)
We, as believers, are commanded to be baptized
After the Gentiles received the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter said in Acts 10:47-48, “47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.”
The Greek word for “ordered” (prostasso, aor.act.ind.) means, “to order with official authorization” (LRLGNT)
Peter had the authority to command them to be baptized
We find prostasso also translated “commanded” in Mark 1:44 and Matthew 1:24.
It’s used in the LXX in Genesis 50:2 of Joseph “commanding” his physicians to embalm his father after his death
A different word is used in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”
The command is found in the verb matheteuo (aor.act.imp.), “make disciples”
This verb is in the imperative mood
They were commanded to make disciples by baptizing and teaching them what He taught (v.20)
Since baptism was seen as a symbol for the cleansing or washing away of sin, we now come to...

III. The Problem

The problem is noted in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:13-17.
First we read that after Jesus arrived from Galilee and coming to John to be baptized that...

A. John tried to prevent Jesus’ baptism (v.14)

Matthew 3:14 begins by stating that “John tried to prevent Him
The word “prevent” is used in the imperfect tense suggesting a continued effort on John’s part
He kept trying to prevent Him
John said in Matthew 3:14, “...I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?””
John’s statement highlights his bewilderment
John had refused to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees because they were totally unworthy of it because they would not repent
Now he was almost equally reluctant to baptize Jesus because He was too worthy for it (MacArthur)
John’s attempt to prevent Jesus from being baptized is a testimony to Jesus’ sinlessness (MacArthur)
So John didn’t want to baptize Jesus...
Because Jesus had no need for cleansing
Because He needed no baptism of repentance
Because He was the perfect “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) and was therefore “without sin” (Heb.4:15)

B. John permitted Jesus’ baptism (v.15)

But only after Jesus explained why they needed to do this
Jesus said to John “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he permitted Him”
How was Jesus’ baptism a fulfillment of “all righteousness”?
For God’s plan to be perfectly fulfilled, it was necessary for Jesus to be baptized and to be baptized specifically by John
It seems that one reason Jesus submitted to baptism was to give an example of obedience to His followers
He also did that when Peter asked Him about the collection of customs or the poll-tax
Matthew 17:24-27, “24 When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” 26 When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. 27 “However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.””
Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”
He not only modeled obedience in every case
He also demonstrated righteousness
His baptism was his first act of ministry
It was the first step in the redemptive plan that He came to fulfill
He who had no sin took His place among those who had no righteousness
He who was without sin submitted to a baptism for sinners
In this act the Savior of the world took His place among the sinners of the world
The sinless Friend of sinners was sent by the Father “in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3); and He “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21; cf. Isa. 53:11)
There was no other way to fulfill all righteousness (MacArthur)
So with His baptism, He acknowledged that John’s standard of righteousness was valid
By His actions, He affirmed it was the will of God to which all men are to be subject
His baptism represented His willingness to identify with the sinful people He came to save
Chromatius, who lived in the 3rd century, was the bishop of Aquileia wrote “Therefore the Lord did not want to be baptized for his own sake but for ours, in order to fulfill all righteousness. Indeed, it is only right that whatever someone instructs another to do, he should first do himself. Since the Lord and Master of the human race had come, he wanted to teach by his example what must be done for disciples to follow their Master and for servants their Lord.”
Lenski adds, “Jesus was baptized by John because he regarded this as the right way in which to enter upon his great office. He, the Sinless One, the very Son of God, chose to put himself by the side of all the sinful ones, for whom this sacrament of John's was ordained. He thus connects himself with all of John's baptisms, for it is his mediation that makes these baptisms truly efficacious for sinners. In thus by his own baptism joining himself to all these baptisms of John he signifies that he is now ready to take upon himself the load of all these sinners, i.e., to assume his redemptive office.”
The baptism of Jesus did 3 things:
It signaled the beginning of His public ministry
He publicly identified Himself as the promised Messiah, the One who came to redeem and save from sin
His baptism also publicly revealed His total submission to the sovereign will of God
Last, His baptism stood as a profound picture of the Gospel message He would preach and fulfill
It pictured His death as the sacrificial atonement for sin and resurrection from the death (
Matt Slick says the reason for Jesus’ baptism is rooted in the OT priesthood
“He began His ministry and entered into the Melchizedek priesthood so He could become the High Priest and be the holy sacrifice” (Amos 3:7; Exod.29:1, 4-7; Num.4:3)
What happened after Jesus was baptized?
Verse 10 says John saw...

IV. The Spirit (v.10)

“descending upon Him.”
Mark says, “Immediately coming up out of the water, He (John) saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him”
John uses the word “immediately” 42 times in Mark to emphasize the “sureness and inevitability of God’s sovereign plan” (Sproul).
This occurred as Jesus was...

A. Coming out of the water (v.10a)

This further supports baptism by immersion
All righteousness has been fulfilled!

B. The heavens opened (v.10b)

This is language from Isaiah 64:1-2, “1 Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence— 2 As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil— To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence!”
Jesus’ baptism marks the arrival of God’s presence (FSB)
One commentator says, “Just as the veil of the Temple was rent in twain to symbolize the perfect access of all men to God, so here the heavens are rend asunder to show how near God is to Jesus and Jesus is to God” (Quoted by MacArthur)
It is also interesting to note that Luke is the only writer to record that Jesus was praying when He was baptized
Luke 3:21, “Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened
After the heavens were opened, Mark says...

C. The Spirit descended (v.10c)

Verse 10 says, “Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him.”
This is the only time the Holy Spirit is represented as a dove
He was not a dove but the text says “like a dove descending upon Him”
This is figurative language
To the Jewish mind of that day the dove was associated with sacrifice
There were five possible elements of a sin sacrifice—a young bull, a male goat, a female goat, a dove/pigeon, or 1/10 ephah of flower (
The type of animal depended on the identity and financial situation of the giver
Bullocks were sacrificed by the rich
Lambs were sacrificed by the middle class
But most people were poor and could only afford a dove
This connects Jesus to Isaiah 42:1, “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.”
This portrays Jesus as the anointed servant in Isaiah who is commissioned by God to establish justice on earth (cf. Isa.42:1, 4) (FSB)
The Holy Spirit also anointed Him for service and granted Him strength for ministry
The Spirit also anointed Him for His kingly service as Isaiah predicted
Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners”
One commentator says, “Among other things, the Spirit of God came upon Jesus in His humanness in a special way (John 3:34) that empowered Him to cast out demons (Matt. 12:28), to do miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 2:22), and to preach (cf. Acts 10:38). Like every human being, Jesus became tired and hungry and sleepy. His humanness needed strengthening, and that needed strength was given by the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:14).
Jesus’ anointing with the Holy Spirit was unique. It was given to empower Him in His humanness, but it was also given as a visible, confirming sign to John the Baptist and to everyone else watching. Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the great King whose coming the Lord had called John to announce and to prepare men for” (MacArthur).
Verse 11 mentions...

V. The Voice (v.11)

that came out of heaven
Mark says, “And a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased”

A. This was personally directed to Jesus

The voice “out of the heavens” said, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.”
This same phrase occurs in Matthew 3:17 and Luke 3:22 in connection with Jesus’ baptism
This was...

B. This was a confirmation from the Father

No OT sacrifice, no matter how carefully selected, had ever been truly pleasing to God
It was not possible to find an animal that did not have some blemish, some imperfection
The blood of those animals were only symbolic
Hebrews 10:4, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
Forgiveness of sin is only possible in Christ
Hebrews 9:12, “and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet.1:19).
This is how God could say that He was “well-pleased” with His Son
Because the Father found no imperfection in His Son, He now by His grace finds no imperfection in those who trust in Him for salvation
Galatians 3:27, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
And as such, Philippians 1:9 says we have “the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Jesus’ baptism is also...

C. It is the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry (v.11b)

Jesus now begins His ministry
He was hidden for 30 years but now has appeared for our sake
This is all historical
Jesus came born of a virgin, grew up in Nazareth and then appeared at the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist
He did this for us as a fulfillment of all righteousness
Have you been baptized?
If not, you are disobeying His command to be baptized
You are also refusing to publicly identify as a follower of Christ
As Peter said on the day of Pentecost, I say to you now, “Repent and be baptized”
As we study Mark’s gospel we are introduced to Jesus
Mark says He is the “Son of God” (1:1)
Do you believe that too?
In order to be saved, you must affirm certain truths about Jesus
One is His deity
Paul said in Romans 10:9-10, “9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Remember the word “confess” means “to say the same thing”
Are you saying the same thing God says about Jesus?
Are you saying the same thing He says about your sin?
Have you embraced Him as your Lord and Savior?
Turn to Him now as we pray
Let’s pray
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