Mark 1:9-11 Why Did Jesus Get Baptized?
Thursday, August 7, 2008–Here is a Sunday morning sermon from 1999 in my Mark series. Many people through the years have asked me the question, “Why did Jesus Get Baptized?” Here is the answer!
Mark 1:9-11 “Why Did Jesus Get Baptized?” 1Aug99am
I. Revival on the Riverbank
II. Anointing of the Anointed One
III. Approval of the Anointed One
IV. Identifying with Sinners
Introduction: Do you remember your baptism? Was it in a creek, pond or river? Or in the comfort of a warm baptistery? What does your baptism mean to you? Was that when you joined the church? Was it a moment of triumph? Hopefully it was a sign, a demonstration of what God had done for you and what you had pledged to God. It is a sign of dying to self, being buried with Christ, washed clean by the Holy Spirit, raised to walk in newness of life. It is a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is a public statement of your decision to follow Christ, to be a disciple. It is an act of worship, acknowledging what God has done for you. And, yes, it is the step by which one enters into membership of the local Baptist church! Baptism has always been the rite of entry into the Church universal.
But what about Jesus’ baptism? Why did he get baptized? He did not get saved. He did not join a church. And what is important about the baptism of Jesus for us? Surely this is an unusual story that needs investigating. In this story we see to what extent Jesus identifies with sinners like us; we see to what lengths he goes to do his Father’s will. Here we see the commencement of the ministry of the Saviour.
I. Revival on the Riverbank
First of all let us review what John the Baptist was doing. Here we see the forerunner of the Messiah preparing the way by preaching a strong message of repentance and judgment. This remarkable prophet is believed to have preached to about 300,000 people in a dramatic revival most noted for his calling Jews to submit to the rite of baptism.
Baptism was related to ritual washing by Israel’s priests in Leviticus 8:6 “Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water”, this was ritual bathing for cleanliness, God wanted the priests to be clean from a practical viewpoint but it also symbolized being clean on the inside too. But primarily baptism was used for Gentile converts to Judaism along with circumcision and a sacrifice. Therefore, for John to ask the Jews to submit to this baptism was to ask them to do what a Gentile would have to do, to admit their unworthiness, their sinfulness, to acknowledge they were in essence, Gentiles of the heart.
It was to this baptism that Jesus came to his cousin John. Keep in mind Luke 1:36 shows that Mary and Elizabeth were related; probably Elizabeth was Mary’s aunt. Matt 4:14 shows John’s reluctance to baptize Jesus “I need to be baptized by you and do you come to me?” All 4 Gospels relate the baptism story so it is an unusual and important event.
II. Anointing of the Anointed One
Notice that Jesus came from Nazareth. This village was so unremarkable that there are no references to it in the Old Testament. It has no historical significance except for being the hometown of the Son of God! But Nathaniel said in John 1:46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Matthew alone relates that this town of Nazareth was related to an obscure prophecy “He will be called a Nazarene”
But Jesus was essentially from a no-account town, from the other side of the tracks, from nowhere. This shows us perhaps that God chooses the obscure, the forgotten, and the humble to accomplish his will as much as the rich and famous. Think of David from humble Bethlehem, the 8th son, a nobody, yet God chose him to be a king. Moses started out as a slave boy under a death sentence, yet he was adopted into pharaoh’s household. Yet when he was old enough he spurned his wealthy Egyptian family and identified with his nation of slaves. Jesus was not born into a wealthy family; he was not raised in Jerusalem.
Where are you from? Is your background somewhat less than awesome? Humble beginnings? God can still use you! God has a plan for your life! It doesn’t matter where you are from!
Notice that as Jesus was coming up out of the water (thus showing it was immersion by the way!) he sees heaven being opened, torn open violently, rent asunder! Look at Isaiah 64:1 “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down…” a prophecy fulfilled here at Jesus’ baptism! This word for rend is used again by Mark in 15:38 “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” These two events of tearing open show us that with the advent of Jesus’ ministry we have a new era, the dawn of a new day, an apocalyptic and cataclysmic event. Heaven is open to man through Christ now; the veil is ripped open to the holy of holies with Jesus as our mediator.
Notice also the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove. The dove has long been associated with the Spirit, look at Genesis 1:2 (hmm I just can’t seem to get out of Genesis can I?) “and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” or brooding as a dove does. In Genesis 8:10-12 Noah sends a dove out after the flood and she returns with an olive branch- another symbol of baptism (the flood) and the spirit (dove) and peace (olive branch).
Here is a beautiful picture of the Holy Trinity. We see Jesus submitting to the will of his heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit anointing him for the ministry, and the Father speaking from heaven. Jesus needed the anointing of the Spirit, everything he did was under the control of the Spirit. We will see that in the next episode vs12 “At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert…”
There is an increasing tendency in religious circles to de-emphasize the Trinity or to outright deny the Trinity. I was talking with some folks this week who believed the Trinity meant merely that the Father, Son, and Spirit were one in purpose, but that they are not ONE GOD. For 2000 yrs. Christians have confessed that we worship one God who is a Trinity of persons. Here we see that demonstrated. With the oneness Pentecostals growing rapidly we see another problem of people saying that God existed in different modes at different times, but never as a Trinity.
With Jesus being anointed here by the Spirit we need to avoid also the error of the liberals who look at this as being the time when the man Jesus became the son of God, became the Christ. Some would say that he was the Christ and son of God until the cross when he cried out “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” No, Jesus is not here becoming the Son of God, He was always the Son of God. He did not become the Christ; he has always been the Christ. But, in his human nature, we do not know when he found out he was the Christ, when he knew what his mission was. Clearly as a 12yr old at the temple he knew he had to be about his Father’s business, but this baptism inaugurates his ministry in a special way, the Spirit anoints him, so this could be the big event where he found out God’s plan for him.
Now let me ask you, if Jesus needed the Spirit to carry out his ministry, do you think maybe we need the Spirit to carry out God’s will for us? How much do you rely on the Holy Spirit? Are we anointed for the task? Are we walking in the Spirit?
III. Approval of the Anointed One
When the heavens are torn asunder, and the Spirit descends as a dove, something else unusual happens, the fancy name is a theophany, a supernatural appearance of God. Sort of like the burning bush experience for Moses, God speaks out loud in a thunderous voice.
“You are my Son…” The Father proclaims the relationship with his son for all to hear. Here is the Son of God as Mark proclaimed in 1:1. This title is not used much by Mark, but here is a dramatic display of The Trinity and the divinity of Christ. In 14:61 the high priest asks Jesus if he is the son of the blessed one, and Jesus answers “I am” and is quickly condemned for blasphemy, though he spoke the truth. At his crucifixion the Roman Centurion, the official Roman officer in charge of carrying out the greatest miscarriage of justice of all time, confesses that “Surely this man was the Son of God!” So at the beginning of his ministry God proclaims Jesus to be his Son and at the end of his ministry cruel man agrees.
Look at Isaiah 42:1 and then Psalm 2:7 these passages are considered to be the OT references to what God spoke here.
You are my son… For us we need to realize that , because of what Jesus has done , we are adopted as God’s children, we are joint heirs with Christ, we can call out “Abba, Father” to God. Do you realize the great privilege we have? We are God’s children! What a joy!
“whom I love” Because the Trinity is eternal, God has always existed as a Trinity, love and communication has always existed. God is love so love is eternally an attribute of God. The Father loves the Son the Son loves the Father, the Spirit loves the Father and Son and they love the Spirit.
Does God love you? Yes! John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life” The bigger question is do you love God? John 14:21″Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me…”
“with you I am well pleased”… notice that this is said by the Father to the Son at the beginning of his ministry, before he has preached, healed or cast out any demons. This is a pronouncement after 30yrs of Jesus being just a baby, a child, a teenager, a young man, a carpenter. God was well pleased with Jesus as being just a normal man who lived an obedient lifestyle quietly, in a no account town like Nazareth.
So many people wonder what God has for them, thinking it is some big deal like being a missionary in some far off land, or starting some kind of an important ministry. Pleasing God means being faithful where you are, walking with faith in the every day arena of where you live. Washing dishes for the glory of God! Being a carpenter for the glory of God! Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God and you will receive the same blessing “Well done my good and faithful servant”
Here too we see a part of our salvation in Christ. Because he perfectly kept the law and lived a life pleasing to God in every way, he could be the Lamb of God and die as our sacrifice. His righteousness is credited to our account; He kept the law for us! We receive not only forgiveness but his uncountable merit into our accounts!
IV. Jesus’ Baptism Identifies with Sinners Like Us
Ok, we have looked at this baptism from every angle, now let us get down to the what was he doing phase. Why did Jesus get baptized? This is after all a baptism of repentance and Jesus had no sins to repent of. First of all let us look at the sinlessness of Christ. John 8:46″Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” 2Cor 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” Heb 4:15 “we have one (a high priest) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin”
The main reason we can find for Jesus’ baptism is quite simply to tell us and the Father that he is one with us, that he is willingly taking on our guilt and suffering. Just as the OT person brought his sacrificial lamb to the priest and laid his hands upon the animal, thus identifying with the animal, passing his guilt on to the animal, so too Christ is, in baptism, letting God anoint him, lay his hands upon him, as the sacrificial lamb. Jesus willingly takes on our sin guilt.
Here too Jesus commences his public ministry which will lead inevitably to the cross. This is his moment of decision, he is choosing this day to do his Father’s will and become the suffering servant who will die for his people.
Conclusion: Christ has identified with you, have you identified with Christ? Have you decided to follow Jesus? Have you laid all your sins on Jesus or are you still carrying the guilt of your own sins on your soul? Are you a Believer but have not yet proclaimed your faith publicly through baptism?