This Sunday, as part of my sermon series on the seven first words of Christ, I’m going to take a long, hard look at that moment in the Gospels when Jesus comes to be baptized.
Why did he do that?
John can’t understand it. What he’s offering is a “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” In other words, you come confessing your sins, he washes them away, you go home dripping wet but feeling clean in a way you never have before. Word spreads and soon everybody is coming to be baptized, even Jesus.
Which raises a question.
We Christians believe that Jesus was sinless. We get this idea from passages like 1 Peter 2:22 (“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth”), 1 John 3:5 (“…and in him was no sin”), and Hebrews 4:15 (“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin”). So we might wonder why a sinless Jesus would come for a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins—he had nothing to repent from, and no sins to “remiss”!
John says to him, in essence, “Look, I need to be baptized by you. I’m the sinner here! Why are you coming to me?” And Jesus answers with that enigmatic saying: “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”
What does that mean, exactly? I’d like to know, and I’d like to know before this Sunday when I preach on Jesus’ baptism. I have an idea, but if you have one I wish you would share it with me, and preferably before Saturday night! Just click on the word “comments” below and tell me why Jesus was baptized. The winner might be (could be, may be) mentioned in Sunday’s sermon.