Matthew 3:13-17

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Gospel according to Matthew or “The Book of the generation of Jesus Christ”.
Hopewell Primitive Baptist Church
May 29, 2022
Matthew 3:13–17
Lord willing, I hope to continue on in the Gospel According to Matthew. So, if you would, please turn to chapter 3, verse 13.
“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mt 3:13–17.
In the previous messages we hadbeen looking at John the Baptist. His ministry issummed up by Matthew inverses 1-12. John was sent in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies to pave the way for the Messiah. He came preaching repentance and upon fruits justifying a true conversion, hebaptized converts by full immersion into water. His preaching was the beginning of the full revelation of the Good News about the Christ coming to pardon sins and secure God’s grace for the elect.
Jesus said in Matthew11:13, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” Again, it is written in Luke 24:27, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Remember, the original audience of Matthew’s Gospel, and the two men that Jesus addressed in Luke 24:27, were Hebrew Christians, former Jews. Prior to Jesus Christ, their lives were saturated in things of the Old Covenant-- that was their understanding of the things of God, that was their world-view, that was their religion-- although prior to Jesus it was much misunderstood and the view of the Covenant of Grace was seen dimly.
The Old Covenant was first given as a fuller revelation of the Covenant of Grace. Before the Old Covenant was given to Moses there was not much doctrine given explaining the entire redemptive plan of God. From Adam till Moses, sin was exposed and righteousness was preached with more and more about the covenant being revealed. To those whom God revealed himself to, like Adam,Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and others, it was toldthat sinners need a Savior-- and God promised to send a Savior to redeem people from their sins. The hope of the Old Testament Saints was that salvation would be secured by that promised Savior, the Messiah.
John’spreaching began to explainthe Covenant of Grace, proclaiming to the physical descendants of Abraham that true descendants, the ones who would receive the promises of redemptionof sins and reconciliation with God, are the true, spiritual, heirsof Abraham. John preached the doctrines of the Covenant of Grace, which is the Gospel. With John’s preparatory preaching, the Gospel was being made clearer to the elect of God. The New Covenant, the full revelation of the Covenant of Grace, was know being ushered in, and the Old Covenant-- full of types and shadows pointing to Christ, would now begin to fade away. As the writer of Hebrews says, with “A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Hebrews 8:13
In theological terms, this ever increasing revelation from God about the Covenant of Grace and the surety of it-- Jesus Christ-- from Genesis 3:15 to John the Baptist is called “progressive revelation”.
In Matthew chapter 3 we have been reading about John paving the way for the incarnate Son of God, the long anticipated Messiah, and he proclaimedthat one mightier than he was coming, and Matthew writes, in verse 13, “Then cometh Jesus…”
If you recall from Matthew 1:21, Jesus means Savior. The Angel Gabriel declared, “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
All that has been anticipated since Genesis 3:15, the promise of a savior for sinners, has come.
Matthew further writes, that Jesus came, “… from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.”
“from Galilee”, more specifically as Mark puts it, “from Nazareth of Galilee”.
If you recall, the last time we read from Matthew anything specifically mentioning Jesus, it was at the end of Chapter 2. In chapter 2 Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt to escape King Herod’s murderous reign. Joseph was then instructed by an angel of the Lord in a dream to return to the land of Israel. Once there Joseph was again warned in a dream to turn into parts of Galilee, where he, Mary, and Jesus dwelt in the city of Nazareth-- which was a despised town among the Jews.
From that time recorded in Matthew chapter 2 until Jesus coming forth in chapter 3, we are only told about one other time in his life and that is in Luke 2 when the12 year old Jesus was found “… in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.” Luke 2:46. John Gill said that Jesus had lived for many years, “… in great obscurity, in all obedience to God, in subjection to his parents, exercising a conscience void of offence towards God and man, and employing his time in devotion and business..” (John Gill, An Exposition of the New Testament, vol. 1, The Baptist Commentary Series (London: Mathews and Leigh, 1809), 26.).
Paul wrote in Philippians 2:7-8, about Jesus, that he“… made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Now about 30 years of age, having lived a perfect and sinless life, Jesus has humbly come to begin his earthly ministry.
Hewent to the Jordan river, where John was, to be baptized of him.
Something that has been covered in previous sermonswas the humility of Christ. We saw this in many regards, even from his living inNazareth ofGalilee. This action by Jesus in hisgoing to John is also an act of humility. There is no royal treatment here. There is no fanfare for the Kingly Messiah. His subjects aren’t coming to him.
Jesus leaves his hometown, for about a three days journey,to go into the wilderness where John is-- a bearded man who, “… had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.” Mt 3:4. We are told by Matthew that all of Judea had gone out to John, and here is our Lord, before men, going in this humble act as a public proclamation that the ministry of the Messiah has officiallybegun-- salvation has come.
Matthew also records in verse 13 that Jesus came to John for a specific purpose, “to be baptized of him”.
John said in verse 11, “… he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear …” Jesus, the Lord and Master, does not call the servant, but rather, goes to the servantto submit to the ordinance of Baptism. His first act in his ministry is one of humble submission.
That is also the first act of a believer after conversion, they humbly submit themselves to the command to be baptized. John was baptizing people after theyshowed true repentance. So why was our Lord Jesus, a sinless man who had nothing to repent of, coming to be baptized?
Verse 14, “But John forbadehim, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” John recognized that the Christ has come before him. Hedid not know for certain that Jesuswas the Christ until by divine revelation he was able to identify himwith certainty.
Knowing this, John appears shocked that the man whom he claimed would bring a greater baptism than his, has come to be baptized. He evens tries to prevent, or hinder, what the Lord is requesting of him because he doesn’t understand what is being asked of him. John tries to reason with Jesus, saying he is the one that needs to be baptized of Christ.
John knows what his baptism is in comparison to the baptism with the Holy Spirit. John desires all of the benefits, blessings, and gifts of the Holy Spirit that come from the Lord’s baptism.
What could the Lord Jesus need of John in the way of spiritual acts for himself? John recognizes this when he says “… and comest thou to me?” What could John give to Jesus that he did not already have as the Christ, the Son of God?
Certainly, John could not baptize the Lord based upon repentance of sin as
Jesus was born with out a sin nature, there was no original sin inherited from Adam. That sin nature is passed down through men, but Jesus had no earthly father-- for he was conceived of the Holy Spirit. He knew no sin. He did not commit sin, nor did he have acts of omission-- meaning he did not omit any thing that God had commanded. He was absolutely perfect. He was sinless, pure, righteous, and holy. He was God incarnate. And John, recognizing that Jesus is the Christ, cannot imagine baptizing him.
So why did the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Son of God, the Christ who is, “… the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29)go to John to be baptized.
Verse 15, “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”
“Suffer it to be so now.” Suffer means to consent to, to give permission. The sense behind it is for a superior to give consent to an inferior. The Master is commanding the servant to permit this action, which is the desire of his will, without objection, and let it be done now. Now as in this present moment.
With the command and the immediacy to do the baptism, Jesus said, “… it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”
His explanation for John as to why this is happening is that it is his will, and it satisfies and makes completeall righteousness. It is now time to begin fulfillingthe ministry that the Father has ordained for the Son. And in that ministry, as with his entire life,Christ lives righteouslyand fulfills all of the moral and ceremonial lawsthat the Father has instituted. Thebaptism of John pointedtoward the forgiveness of sins and all of the work that Christ will do in securing redemption.
When a believer partakes of the ordinance of Baptism, and as Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-10, we are baptized into Jesus Christ’s death. We are buried with him in baptism, and like Christ we are raised up from the dead.
Baptism is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. That is the essential part of the Gospel. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
And here, in Matthew, we read that Jesus is going to be Baptized of John.
The first act of Jesus’ ministry is pointing forward to the end of his ministry, where he is anatonement for sinandpours out his blood for the redemption of his people. It points to Jesus Christ conqueringsin and death, and securingsalvation for all of the elect of all time.
There are a number of other things that can be taken away from our Lord’sdesire to be baptized.
In it, Jesus acknowledges and verifies John’s ministry.
Also, John verifies that Jesus is the promised Messiah and the Son of God. The Apostle John writes in John 1:15-18, “John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
Additionally, in this act, Jesus confirms and authenticates the ordinance of Baptism-- and it’s mode of full immersion in water. He further validates John’s baptism and the repentance and conversion that must precede it. By validating John’s baptism, Jesus confirms the authority by which John baptizes him.
Matthew Poole adds something to this that is very interesting. He said, Jesus, “… thus initiated himself in the Christian church, as by circumcision he had made himself of the Jewish church, and so was the Head both of the believing Jews and Gentiles.” (Matthew Poole, Annotations upon the Holy Bible, vol. 3 (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1853), 15.). Lord willing we’ll examine that more in-depth another time.
Jesus’ submissionto the Father is also an example for believers to submit fully to the will of God. Jesus was obedientin an act that was ordained by the Father, which was usedto announcethe Father’s approval and commission of Jesus’ ministry. It was also used to verify the distinction of the three persons of the Holy Trinity-- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. One God, three persons-- all the same in essence, equal in power and glory; and, all manifestly present at this inaugural event of the ministry of Jesus Christ.
All of the confusion about what Jesus is requesting from John in this baptism is now settled by the Lord. John’s concern for what is happening, the greater Master versus the lesser servant-- all settled.
With this command and simple explanation by Jesus, John willfully submits to his Lord and Master to baptize him.
Verse 16 “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water…”
The Greek word for “baptized” is βαπτισθεις (bap-tis-theis), it’s root word isβαπτίζω (baptízō-- bap-tid'-zo)and it’s true meaning is “to immerse”. Jesus was immersed by John in the river Jordan. To further strengthen that this baptism was by immersion, the Scripture says that he went up outof the water-- therefore he must have been down in the water. This phrasing does not mean that he exited the water, but rather came up out of it after being immersed.
Jesus came immediately up out of the water, and “… and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:”
The heavens were opened, the sense is to be unsealed, and it was witnessed by Jesus and John both. What the entirety of the vision was inside of that opening, unsealing the abode of God,we are not told. For what is certainly visible is that out of heaven descended the Holy Spirit. He appeared like a dove for the purpose of being a witness to the work of God and as a confirmation that Jesus is the true Messiah and true Son of God.
This appearing like a dove does notmean that the Holy Spirit actually became a dove, for the Holy Spirit of God is invisible. The verse says likea dove-- that may be in his appearance or may just be in the way he physically manifested himself and the movement resembled that of a dove.
This is the witness from John, as to what he saw, as recorded in the Gospel of John 1:32–34, “ And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me (John had a commission here that we never receive any details about) to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending , and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
What John was foretold concerning the Holy Spirit descending and remaining on Jesus matches perfectly with Matthew’s account. The Holy Spirit descended and lighted, or came upon, the Lord, verifying to John that this is indeed the Son of God.
Matthew Poole adds, “Not that Christ had not received the Spirit before, but that his receiving of it might be notified to others. This dove, or appearance of a dove, lighted upon Christ, thereby showing for whose sake this apparition was. Christ was not confirmed only to be the Son of God by this appearance of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, and lighting upon him, but also by a voice from the excellent glory, saith Peter, 2 Pet. 1:17 …” (Matthew Poole, Annotations upon the Holy Bible, vol. 3 (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1853), 16.)
That takes us back to Matthew 3, verse 17 “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Lomeans to behold, more specifically it means to look, listen, pay attention.
Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells the reader of this Gospel to pay special attention-- a voice from heaven speaks.
God the Father, who has just sent his Holy Spirit as a witness, declares from heaven that Jesus is his Son. Not only is this preparatory for the ministry to come, but it also is a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
Paul in Antioch proclaimed, “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” Acts13:32–33.
Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm, and it is again quoted in Hebrews 1:5,
“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” That verse is also citing 2 Sam. 7:14, which we studied in the messages on Solomon, it reads, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son.” Another passage that we examined with Solomon was 1 Chronicles 22:10, “He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.” That also ties into 1 Chronicles 28:6. Another passage that this Father and Son relationship is seen in is Psalm 89:26–29, “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. 27 Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. 28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. 29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” That covenant is the Covenant of Grace.
Going back to Matthew 3:17. Beloved means, the only, dearly loved and cherished. Very much loved. That is evident from those passages we just read through.
“I am well pleased” is all one word in the Greek- εὐδοκέω (eu-do-keō). The meaning and sense of it is that God takes a high degree of pleasure and satisfaction in his Son. The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary states, “The English here, at least to modern ears, is scarcely strong enough. “I delight” comes the nearest, perhaps, to that ineffable complacency (or inexpressible satisfaction) which is manifestly intended; and this is the rather to be preferred, as it would immediately carry the thoughts back to that august (or grand) Messianic prophecy to which the voice from heaven plainly alluded (Is 42:1)(which reads), “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, IN WHOM MY SOUL DELIGHTETH.” Nor are the words which follow to be overlooked, “I have put My Spirit upon Him; He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” (Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 12.)
Isaiah 42:1, which I just read, is also quoted again in Matthew 12:18.
In Matthew 17:4, on the mount of transfiguration with Peter, James, and John, “… a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.”
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Eph 1:6–14.
“ For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Ga 3:26–29.
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans8:17.
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