The Berean Expositor
Volume 52 - Page 74 of 207
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3: 13 - 4: 11.
pp. 73 - 79
Matthew now proceeds to record the baptism of the Messiah:
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But
John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to
fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered Him" (Matt. 3: 13-15).
Of one thing we can be perfectly sure, namely that the Lord Jesus had no need of
baptism for purification, for, as we have seen, He was the holy One, without sin or taint
of any kind. This John recognized, making him most reluctant to carry out this rite.
Verse 14 tells us that John "forbad Him". The word means he tried to prevent it, but the
Lord countered this by saying "it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness",
that is to fulfil all that was resident in the purpose and will of God. If the Lord had not
submitted to baptism, He would have appeared to hold aloof from His forerunner,
whereas the ministries of the two are linked together. The baptism was only half the
story, for the Messiah had yet to be anointed by the Spirit. It was the beginning of His
public career as the Messiah, like the anointing of a king. In the realm of type and
shadow, priests, prophets and kings were anointed at the beginning of their ministry and
the Son of God was no exception to this:
"As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water.  At that moment
heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on
Him. And a voice from heaven said, This is My Son, Whom I love;  with Him I am
well pleased" (3: 16, N.I.V.).
It is not certain whether Matthew means that the Spirit of God took the form of a dove
and came down or that He descended like a dove does. But in view of Luke's statement
that the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove (Luke 3: 22) we take the
former is what is meant. Meekness and gentleness are the qualities associated with the
dove and the Messiah was the One Who was "meek and lowly of heart" (Matt. 11: 29)
and was soon to announce that "the meek shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5: 5). However
we must not assume that He Who was conceived of the Spirit should be devoid of Spirit
until His baptism.  The outward symbol of the dove reminds us that He was unique in
this respect. Isa. 11: 2 had foretold that the Spirit of the Lord should rest upon Him and
moreover John 3: 34 assures us that the Spirit was not given to Him "by measure".
There was no limitation of the Spirit and His enabling for the Messiah.
Contrary to popular teaching, the baptism in water of Christ was not given as an
example to follow. In addition to what we have seen, the Apostle John gives us another
reason in quoting the words of John the Baptist:
". . . . . but (in order) that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come
baptizing with water" (John 1: 31).