19 September 2013

Matthew 3:1-17

“This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (v. 17)


There is so much going on in this chapter, with plenty of detail about John the Baptist's ministry and practice. However, just as John realised, the main focus of our own attention must be on Jesus. He is the chosen one and John realises that when he says the words, "I need to be baptized by you …" (v. 14). However important John's role was in preparing the way for Jesus, he is not God's chosen one to save the world and reconcile the world back to God.

So what does the Baptism of Jesus tell us about his leadership? The first thing to note is that Jesus is no maverick; he is conscious of needing to fulfil the past and he pays it great respect. John is the last of the prophets working to the old covenant, yet called to usher in the new Messianic age.  In verse 15, in response to John's feeling of unworthiness, Jesus replies, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness." Jesus is unique, but yet still understands his role, in humility, within the context of honouring what is good from the past. He is not starting with a clean slate.

However, the really significant moment is when Jesus surfaces from the water after his Baptism. In the form of something like a dove, the Spirit of God descends upon Jesus. If there had been any doubts, either in Jesus' own mind or those closest to him, then the utterance from heaven, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with thim I am well pleased", ends all discussion! Whatever happened at the River Jordan that day, those who were there would have been convinced that Jesus was special and  had been confirmed by God. Moreover, God had called Jesus "my Son". Here is another name to add to an already impressive list - Son of God.

Christ, Messiah, King, Saviour, Emmanuel and now, Son of God. The mantle of leadership is firmly around his shoulders. The question still remains about what style Jesus will bring as God's chosen leader? How will he exercise his God-given power?

To Ponder

  • In your Christian journey, how do you honour the past without being a slave to all that has gone before?
  • What significance do you place on your own Baptism?

Bible notes author

Michael King

Michael King is a Methodist local preacher. From 2000-2011, he was leader of the Methodist Church's World Church Relationships team, and was the vice-president of the Methodist Conference in 2012/2013.