• Download

The Baptism of the Messiah (Matthew 3:13-17)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“The Baptism of the Messiah”

(Matthew 3:13-17)

Series: God’s Fulfilled Promise [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

August 12, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Illustration: Have you ever been in a situation where you know that you should be showing someone honor, yet they are trying to honor you. It makes you feel uncomfortable. Like, if you’re a man, and a lady is holding the door for you, maybe because she is a greeter at a restaurant. It just feels wrong. While a missions pastor I would visit countries with seasoned pastors who were often facing persecution of some kind and they would show me honor. I always felt uncomfortable. I was the one who should be honoring them. 

In today’s passage, Jesus comes to John the Baptist and asks him to baptize Him. John is taken aback and says that Jesus should be baptizing him instead. John is very uncomfortable with this request from Jesus. 

Let’s look at this passage together and see what God is teaching us today. 

Read the Passage

Read Matthew 3:13-17

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to stop him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?”

15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John allowed him to be baptized.

16 When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”

Let’s pray together.


We are continuing our series in the book of Matthew. 

We’ve learned about the birth of the promised Messiah and how He fulfills the prophecies of old. 

Last week we were introduced to John the Baptist. 

John was pointing us to Jesus as the one who is accelerating the coming of the kingdom of God. 

Now, we see an interaction between John and Jesus as Jesus comes for baptism Himself. 

As we look at this passage, we will see three pictures of Jesus. 

First, . . . 

  1. A picture of Jesus’ faithfulness (v. 13) [on screen]

We see that Jesus came from Galilee to John to be baptized. 

Why would He do this? Why would He want to be baptized?

This was certainly surprising to John. We’ll talk about that more in just a minute. 

Jesus tells us in the passage that this was “fulfill all righteousness.”

So, Jesus indicates that in some manner He is supposed to be baptized by John in order to fulfill His mission. 

Even though He is the Messiah, even though He is the Son of God, even though He is accelerating the kingdom of God, even though He should be baptizing John, indeed, even though His baptism is more powerful than John’s, He goes to John. 


You see, Jesus was being faithful to what the Father had called Him to do. 

He was placing Himself among humankind and humbling Himself by being baptized as other followers of God were doing. 

He was being faithful. 

Are we faithful to what God has called us to do as His followers?


In John’s response to Jesus, we are given . . .


II. A picture of Jesus’ lordship (vv. 14-15) [on screen]

Look at verses 14 and 15 again. 

14 But John tried to stop him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?”

15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John allowed him to be baptized.

Bear in mind that this is John the Baptist. 

Jesus Himself would later say of John, there is no one greater who has been born of a woman than John the Baptist. 

Yet, John is floored by the thought of him baptizing Jesus. 

“I should be baptized by you,” he says!

John recognizes the lordship of Jesus Christ here. 

We must recognize that Jesus is Lord!


John has already said, “I am not even worthy to touch his shoes.” Now, he adds to that. 

Yet, Jesus says that this has to happen in order for him to fulfill His purpose. This has to happen to “fulfill all righteousness.”

So, what does Jesus mean by this statement?

Kurt Richardson, in his commentary on Matthew, says to “fulfill all righteousness,” means, “to complete everything that forms part of a relationship of obedience to God.”

In short, what this means is that Jesus must do this in order to accomplish the righteous purpose for which He came. 


Let’s be clear that Jesus does not need to be baptized in order to be made righteous. 

Jesus is already perfectly righteous and without any sin. 

Remember, as we learned last week, even those who were baptized by John did so after they repented. They were making a public statement that they were turning from their sin and committing to God’s way. 

Jesus had no need to repent of sin. However, He was publicly committing to God’s way through His baptism. 

I believe Jesus was baptized for at least four reasons:

    1. He wanted to identify with human beings. 

The people were coming to John to be baptized after repenting of their sins. 

Jesus had no reason to repent, yet I believe that He wanted to identify with their humanity, as He would later represent them by taking the sins of humanity on Himself on the cross. 

    1. He wanted to identify with His future command. 

Jesus would later command His followers to go and make disciples and baptize them. 

By Him having been baptized Himself, He brought further emphasis on the importance of baptism. 

    1. He wanted to identify His commitment. 

This period in Matthew’s gospel signifies the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. 

Jesus is signifying His commitment to following the will of the Father at HIs baptism.

    1. He wanted to identify with His future work. 

As we’ve discussed before, baptism signifies the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

By being baptized Himself, Jesus was giving an early picture of what kind of future work He would accomplish through His death and resurrection at the cross.

So, Jesus comes to be baptized by John.  

Jesus is the one who is supreme. John wants to yield to Him.

Yet, the Lord demonstrates His lordship further by taking the form of an obedient and humble human. In so doing He shows that He is the Messiah that the people will truly need. 


Finally, we have . . .

III. A picture of Jesus’ deity (vv. 16-17) [on screen]

Let’s review verses 16 and 17 again. 

16 When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.”

What a magnificent moment this must have been. 

There is so much contained in this passage. 

First of all, we see the entire Trinity present in this passage. 

Jesus, the Son, is being baptized. 

God the Father is speaking His approval on the baptism of Jesus. 

The Holy Spirit of God is descended upon Jesus like a dove. 

This is proof that although God is one, we see the individual members of the Trinity at work together. 

God is unified, yet He exists in three persons. 

Some might say, “How is that possible?” We must remember that this is God we’re talking about. What seems impossible to us is easy to God!

We’re talking about the one who designed all life!

We’re talking about the one who created the Milky Way galaxy, and all other galaxies, by His spoken word!

We’re talking about the one who designed a sunset!

He is able to do all things!

The Trinitarian relationship of our God is one of the great mysteries, and great realities, of our faith. 

God is One, and He exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all at the same time. 

We see that here in this passage. 


We see through this experience that Jesus was more than just a mere man. 

As He comes up out of the water, the heavens are opened. 

After the sky splits apart, something like a dove descends upon Jesus and we realize that it is the Holy Spirit of God. 

Notice that it doesn’t say an actual dove, but, “like a dove.”

The Spirit of God appeared in a way that we could recognize and came upon Jesus anointing Him further for His mission. 

In case this is not amazing enough, we see that an actual verse is heard as well. Could you imagine actually hearing the voice of God?

God the Father speaks and gives His approval of Jesus’ faithful obedience in baptism and His commitment to the mission. 

Jesus is not just a man, He is Lord, and He is God Himself.


Now, some might say that this verse alone doesn’t prove that Jesus is God, but simply that He was the Son of God (as if that alone were a simple fact).

Well, let me point you to other passages as well. 

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Well, who is the Word? Listen to John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Word is God, the Word is also the Son!

Further, listen to Jesus Himself when questioned by the Pharisees regarding His authority. Listen to John 8:48-59. 

48 The Jews responded to him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you’re a Samaritan and have a demon?”

49 “I do not have a demon,” Jesus answered. “On the contrary, I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and judges. 51 Truly I tell you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

52 Then the Jews said, “Now we know you have a demon. Abraham died and so did the prophets. You say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham who died? And the prophets died. Who do you claim to be?”

54 “If I glorify myself,” Jesus answered, “my glory is nothing. My Father—about whom you say, ‘He is our God’—he is the one who glorifies me. 55 You do not know him, but I know him. If I were to say I don’t know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t fifty years old yet, and you’ve seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”

59 So they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple.

Remember, God revealed Himself as “I am!” When Jesus did this, He identified Himself as Yahweh. That’s why they tried to stone Him.

Also, listen to Thomas’ reaction to Jesus upon seeing Him resurrected from the dead. Listen to John 20:24-29:

24 But Thomas (called “Twin”), one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples were telling him, “We’ve seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Don’t be faithless, but believe.”

28 Thomas responded to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Jesus affirmed Thomas’ statement; He didn’t correct it. 

Notice, Jesus never corrected those who claimed that He was divine. He never clarified when others thought He was claiming He was divine. 

The entire scope of Scripture, as well as Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism, shows us that Jesus was much more than just a man, or a good teacher, or even the son of a god. Indeed, He is God Himself in the flesh. 


Concluding Thoughts:

In this passage, we see a picture of Jesus’ faithfulness, a picture of Jesus’ lordship, and a picture of Jesus’ deity. 

We’re starting to see the ministry of Jesus ramp up and we’re starting to see that He was more than just a special child, He was more than just a good man, He was indeed Lord. 

Here’s our bottom line this week:

Bottom Line: Jesus’ baptism demonstrated His calling and commitment to His mission.  [on screen]


We see His calling: who He really was and why He came, and we see His commitment: what He came to do. 

He was the son of God and He came to save His people from their sins. 

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Examine your faithfulness to the mission.  [on screen]

Jesus was totally committed to the mission that God gave Him. So much so that He was willing to be baptized by John when He should have been the one baptizing John. 

God has changed our lives and called us to a mission. 

What is your commitment to the mission to which God has called you?

Are you loving God with everything that you have?

Are you loving others?

Are you developing disciples?

Let us all be challenged by the faithfulness of Jesus. 

  1. Examine Jesus’ lordship in your life.  [on screen]

John knew that there was something significant about Jesus. John felt unworthy just to be in presence of Jesus. 

What kind of place does Jesus have in your life?

What is your commitment to Him? What is your relationship with Him?


Matthew, again and again, wants us to see who Jesus really is and why He really came. 

This passage opens the floodgates for us to get an idea of who Jesus is. 

Having seen it now, what will we do with it. 

Will we be changed? Will we be challenged?

How has Jesus changed you?

(Gospel Presentation)

God is not pleased with us because of our sin, but through Jesus, He can say of us, “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased”

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Lord, I’m Coming Home


If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

Join us tonight at 5:30 for “An Expedition in the Bible.” We’re continuing to learn the grand story of Scripture. I hope to see you tonight!

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: The text contained in this sermon is solely owned by its author. The reproduction, or distribution of this message, or any portion of it, should include the author’s name. The author intends to provide free resources in order to inspire believers and to assist preachers and teachers in Kingdom work.