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October 6 Today’s Reading: Mark 1
The Master’s Baptism
Baptism was not considered a light, insignificant thing by the Son of God. He walked all the way from Nazareth of Galilee to Jerusalem to be baptized by John. Why? I can give one very good reason, and only one. He knew it was His Father’s will. It was not convenient; but it was His Father’s will. It might not be understood by His family and friends; but it was His Father’s will. He might be ridiculed as a fanatic; but none of that mattered to Him. It was His Father’s will for Him to be baptized by John, so He came to John at Jerusalem to be baptized.
His baptism was an act of humility. This is no ordinary man coming to be baptized by John. This Man is the incarnate Son of God, the Lord of glory. He comes to be baptized in that same river that Naaman despised. Not only does He submit to the ordinance, but He comes to John to observe it. He does not call John to come to Him.
Our Savior’s baptism was an act of obedience. He came into this world to do His Father’s will; and part of that will was this act by which, at the very outset of His public ministry, He identified Himself with God’s prophet, His message, and His people. There are many reasons for the practice of believer’s baptism. It is the answer of a good conscience toward God. It is a picture of the Gospel. It identifies us with Christ, His people, and the Gospel of His grace. Yet there is no reason more noble than this: — The Lord commands it. Baptism is the believer’s first act of obedience to Christ as his Lord. Nothing is nobler in a servant than implicit obedience to his master.
Our Lord’s baptism was a very meaningful act. Baptism is not an empty, meaningless religious ritual. It is now and as it has been from its inception, a highly symbolic act. Though Mark does not give the details, both Matthew and Luke tell us the meaning and significance of baptism. Our Master’s baptism meant exactly the same thing that our baptism means.
Matthew tells us that our Savior insisted on being baptized “to fulfil all righteousness” (3:13-15). Obviously, baptism did not make the Son of God righteous! But it did signify the means by which He must establish and bring in righteousness for His people. As our Substitute, the Lord Jesus brought in and fulfilled all righteousness as Man by His perfect obedience unto death (Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 10:5-14). Having perfectly obeyed the law of God, He was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. When He was made to be sin for us, He was slaughtered under the fury of God’s unmitigated wrath. When He was slain as our Substitute, He was buried in the earth. After He had been in the earth for three days, to prove that He had indeed fulfilled all righteousness and had put away our sins, He was raised from the dead. That is exactly what was pictured in His baptism; and that is exactly what is pictured in believer’s baptism today (Romans 6:3-6).
Luke records our Lord’s later explanation of His baptism by John to have been an act by which he “justified God” (Luke 7:29-30). Again, baptism does nothing to make God just; but it is the symbolic confession that our God is and must be just. His justice must be satisfied; and our Savior, by His baptism, confessed that He would satisfy the justice of God by dying under the wrath of God as our Substitute. We come to the waters of baptism for exactly the same reason; — to confess our sins and to confess our faith in Him by whose blood God can be both “a just God and a Savior.”