Sunday 08 January 2017

Bible Book:

“And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’” (v. 17)

Matthew 3:13-17 Sunday 8 January 2017

Psalm: Psalm 29


The first three Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) all have anaccount of the Baptism of Jesus by John, but there are twodistinctive features which only appear in Matthew. Firstly, Johnappeared to feel unworthy of performing the Baptism, and declaredthat it would be more appropriate for Jesus to baptize him (verse14). Matthew may be defending Jesus against those who claimed thathe must have been sinful, if he needed to be baptized to wash hissins away, or that by coming to John for Baptism, Jesus was in someway inferior to him. The response of Jesus was to say that for himto be baptized would "fulfil all righteousness" (v. 15). Animportant aspect of Matthew's Gospel is his desire to show thatJesus fulfilled Old Testament Scripture, but there is nothing inthe Old Testament to suggest that the Messiah should be baptised.Rather Jesus was saying that being baptized was doing what Godrequired. His words convinced John and in solidarity with sinfulhumanity, Jesus went through the waters of Baptism.

The words spoken by God as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus inMatthew's account of the Baptism are the second distinctive featurein his Gospel. Whereas the Gospels of Mark and Luke describe thosewords as addressed to Jesus - "You are my Son, the Beloved" (Mark1:11; Luke 3:22), Matthew has "This is my Son, theBeloved". Mark and Luke seem to be describing a personal experiencefor Jesus himself, confirming his status and his mission. Thestatement is based on Psalm2:7 in which God is anointing a King of Israel as Messiah. Bychanging "you" to "this" Matthew seems to be making a proclamationto the crowds at the riverside, whilst not taking away the sense ofvocation from Jesus. The significance of the occasion is forall.

In Matthew's Gospel Jesus is Messiah from the beginning, but athis Baptism he accepts his divine mission, and is empowered for allthat lies ahead. In Acts 10:34-43 the Apostle Peter speaks to theRoman centurion Cornelius and his friends, and his words can beseen as a summary of the earliest Christian preaching. He says"that message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee afterthe baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazarethwith the Holy Spirit and with power" (Acts10:37-38). This emphasises the importance of the Baptism as animportant part of the Christian message.

To Ponder

  • His Baptism was a significant moment in the life of Jesus. Howwould you describe an experience in your life when you wereespecially aware of God?
  • Baptism has been a divisive issue in the history of the Church.What are your thoughts about its place in the Christianlife? 

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