Jesus is now out of the manger, walking and talking, ready to set the world on fire. But before he does, there comes a camel hair wearing, locust eating, eccentric man from the desert named John the Baptist, who Isaiah calls “a voice crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord…” John’s message is simple and clear; “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Of course his message and ministry caused a scene and raised some obvious questions. In answering some of those questions, John made it clear that someone mightier than him was coming, and this person would baptize not with water, but He would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
Then it happened; the one greater comes, and He asked John to baptism Him. How could this be? The one greater, the one who has no sin, was asking John to baptize Him! So John interrupts, “No! I need to be baptized by you!” And then Jesus says this, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” So John baptized Jesus.
What’s going on here? Why does Jesus ask John to baptize Him? Matthew doesn’t really tell us why, but I believe the reason is clear: Jesus was identifying with us, sinful humanity, by His baptism. When people come to faith in Jesus, they are commanded to be baptized to identify with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. So here, in a similar way, Jesus is first identifying with us in His baptism before He asks us to identify with Him in ours.
If you have been baptized, you remember the fanfare. Dad smiled, the congregation applauded, and grandma made you blush when she yelled, “That’s my baby!” But your moment of fanfare and glory was nothing compared to Jesus’. When Jesus came out of the water, the heavens opened up, the Holy Spirit descended on Him, and God the Father spoke these words, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
You may or may not know it now, but you have been spending your whole life seeking after those words. You have spent your life seeking approval, seeking acceptance, seeking a voice to sing over you, “in you I am well pleased.” Perhaps you sought it from a parent who never gave it, or a spouse who withheld it, or a job that wasn’t able to give it. As humans, we desperately want to hear those words, and we seek various voices to sing those words over us. But somehow, no matter how many times we hear it, it never satisfies us at our deepest layer.
That’s because there is only ONE voice that can sing that phrase over us and quench the deepest longings of our soul; our Heavenly Father. And the problem is none of us have been pleasing to Him because we have all rebelled against Him. But… here is the good news: in Christ, the one who was well pleasing to the Father, you have also been well pleasing to the Father. In Christ, the Father sings the same song over you, “You are my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased!”