Chapter 21

 

Lessons from the Master’s

Baptism and His Genealogy

 

“Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri, Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er, Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim, Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda, Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor, Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech, Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” (Luke 3:21-38)

 

            We know virtually nothing about the childhood, youth, teenage years and early adulthood of our Savior. We know he was born at Bethlehem, that Joseph and Mary fled with him to Egypt when he was about two years old and that he was found in the temple conversing with the religious leaders of the temple when he was twelve. We know nothing else about our Lord’s earthly existence until he was thirty years old. All three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) begin to describe our Lord’s life and ministry as a man in exactly the same way — at his baptism. That fact alone makes his baptism and ours matters of tremendous importance.

 

Baptism and Faith

 

In the Word of God baptism and faith always go together (Acts 8:36-38). Baptism is distinctly an ordinance of the New Testament. It is a distinctly Gospel ordinance. There was nothing like it in the Old Testament, and nothing pointing to it.

 

            Many have the notion that John’s baptism was somehow different from the baptism practiced by our Lord, His disciples and us; but there is not a shred of evidence for that notion. There is no evidence that any of our Lord’s disciples were baptized by anyone, except John. John’s baptism, like ours, was the baptism of repentance because of the remission of sins (v. 3). And John’s baptism, like ours, was the symbolic fulfillment of righteousness (Matthew 3:13-17). It was a picture of redemption, a picture of the Gospel. It was a picture not of cleansing by the gift of life, but of ransom by the death of Christ, not of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, but of redemption by the obedience of Christ unto death as our Substitute.

 

“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. 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: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

 

John’s baptism, like ours, was an act by which men and women publicly renounced their former religion and publicly identified themselves with Christ and his people.

 

            Our Lord Jesus treated this blessed ordinance of the gospel as a matter of highest esteem, giving it great honor, and placing great importance upon it. He walked all the way from Galilee to the Jordan River in order to be immersed by John the Baptist.

 

            Baptism must never be regarded by us as a point of indifference, or a matter of slight importance. This is the ordinance of Christ, an ordinance of divine worship, which our Master commands us to keep.

 

            I will say no more in this study about this blessed ordinance of the Gospel than is here specifically stated by God the Holy Spirit. I have no creed to defend, no denomination to uphold, no tradition to maintain. I make no effort to mold the Scriptures to a confession of faith. Believers mold their faith, their doctrine and their practices to the Word of God.

 

Here are five things taught throughout the New Testament and clearly set before us in our Savior’s example. These five things are so obvious, so plainly set before us, that none can misunderstand them or fail to see them, except those who are willfully blinded by religious tradition.

 

  1. Baptism is an ordinance of worship, not a sacrament. That distinction is important. An ordinance is a rule or command. A sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace, or a means by which grace is conferred. Our Lord’s baptism conferred no grace upon him. It washed away no sin from him. And it was not a sign of anything inward. It was that which He was behoved to do as Jehovah’s Servant, because it symbolized the fulfillment of all righteousness by His obedience unto death.

 

  1. Baptism is immersion. Immersion is not a mode, or even the mode of baptism. Immersion is baptism. That is what the word means. Without immersion, there is no baptism. Sprinkling is not immersion. It is sprinkling. Pouring is not immersion. It is pouring. Baptism is immersion.

 

  1. Baptism is for adults only. Our Lord Jesus was thirty years old when He came to be baptized by John.

 

  1. Baptism is for believers only. The necessary prerequisite to baptism is faith (Acts 8:36-38). We are specifically told that our Savior was praying when he was baptized. The practice of sprinkling and/or pouring water on infants, and calling the ritual, “baptism,” is as foreign to the Scriptures as rosary beads! If we would worship God, we must not add to his Word, or alter his ordinance.

 

  1. Our baptism as believers, as followers of Christ, is a reflection of our Lord’s baptism (Romans 6:3-6). In this blessed ordinance of worship believers are buried with Christ in the watery grave and rise with Him from the grave, because that is exactly what has happened to every regenerate person. When Christ died, we died with Him When He arose, we arose with Him. In our baptism we confess to the world that we trust Christ and His obedience unto death as our Substitute for the whole of our salvation, and that we have been raised from death to life by His Spirit.

 

The Trinity and Redemption

 

When our Lord Jesus was baptized, all three Persons in the Godhead displayed a manifest concern in the affair of our redemption. God the Son was baptized. God the Spirit descended upon Him in an openly revealed physical form, as a dove. And God the Father spoke from heaven.

 

            We worship the Triune God, the Three-in-One Jehovah. — “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:7). Throughout the New Testament, we see the fact of the Holy Trinity and the involvement of all three of the divine Persons in the work of grace. Both in the baptismal requirement that believer’s be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), and in the benedictions of grace from the Triune God upon the churches (2 Corinthians 13:14), we are taught that the three of the Godhead are engaged to save chosen sinners. And this fact is asserted with clarity in Ephesians 1:3-14, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 and 1 Peter 1:2).

 

No man can comprehend

The mighty Three-in-One,

Or fathom what to rescue man,

The Triune God has done.

With confidence we boast

What nature never learned,

That Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

To save are all concerned.

 

The Father's love, so grand,

His Son did sacrifice!

The Son for us His life resigned.

The Spirit grace applies.

The Trinity we praise,

Through Jesus Christ, our King.

With gratitude and love we raise

Our voice His praise to sing.

 

To God the Father be,

Who sent His Son to die,

Glory, and to the Son for He

Most willingly complied!

Praise God the Holy Ghost,

Who in Jesus reveals

God's love and grace for sinners lost,

And His salvation seals!

 

Grace and Mediation

 

We have before us a marvelous display of our Lord’s covenant office as our God-man Mediator. The voice which spoke from heaven said, “Thou art my beloved Son. In thee I am well pleased.”

 

            The only way God almighty can or will save fallen, guilty sinners is through a Mediator. And the Lord Jesus Christ is the Mediator, the only Mediator there is, between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5). Everything God has for sinners, everything God requires of sinners and everything God gives to sinners is “in Him,” in Christ. He who is Mediator between God and men must be both God and man. And He who is our Mediator must be one in whom God is well pleased. The Lord God is well pleased with our Redeemer’s holy and infinitely meritorious nature as our God-man Mediator. He is well pleased with our Representative’s holy life of perfect obedience for us. He is well pleased with our Substitute’s death, by which He made complete satisfaction to divine justice, by the sacrifice of Himself in the room and place of His people.

 

The Lord God is well pleased with the merit, the infinite merit of Christ’s obedience unto death as our Substitute, but there is more stated here than that. When the Lord God said, “Thou art my beloved Son. In thee I am well pleased,” He declared that He is well please not just with His Son, but well pleased in His Son. — God almighty is well pleased with his people in his Son! Read the Scriptures and rejoice. If you are in Christ, God is well pleased with you in Him (Ephesians 1:3-6; Numbers 23:21; Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 4:8; Jeremiah 50:20; Ecclesiastes 9:7).

 

“Bold shall I stand in that great day,

For who aught to my charge shall lay,

While through Christ’s blood absolved I am,

From sin’s tremendous curse and blame!”

 

Humanity and Death

 

In verses 23-38 we have a long list of names. Here we are given the names of 75 people. Were it not for the fact that their names are in this genealogical record[1], most of the names would have long ago gone into oblivion. Who remembers them? Who cares who they were, where they lived, what they did or what they had? No one!

 

What frail, dying creatures we are! Like us, these men all once lived upon the earth. They had the same joys we have, the same sorrows, the same griefs and the same troubles. As we all soon must, all these men died and are buried in the earth. Each one has now gone to his own place, as soon we must.

 

            Yes, we too are passing away and soon must be gone. Let us forever bless God and give thanks to him that in this dying world we have a living Savior! Let us make it our one great concern to be joined to Him, who is the Resurrection and the Life. May God give us grace to live day by day in this world of time and trouble as dying men and women who live for eternity.

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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[1] All who read the Scriptures with care know that there is some difficulty reconciling the records of our Lord’s genealogy. If we compare Matthew's account with Luke’s account, there appears to be an obvious conflict in the recorded names given between David and Joseph. Between David and Abraham, Matthew’s record and Luke’s agree. But between David and Joseph, they appear to be two different family trees. In all likelihood there are. It appears that Luke was inspired to give us our Lord’s maternal genealogy, while Matthew and Mark give us his paternal genealogy. Heli, being Mary’s father, would have been Joseph’s father-in-law, his father by marriage. He would have been listed as such in the maternal genealogy of the family.