Backwards Baptism: Matthew 3:13-17

Focus Passage: Matthew 3:13-17 (NASB)

When I read the details surrounding Jesus’ baptism, one thing I am amazed by is the reaction John the Baptist gives Jesus when He comes to be baptized.

It is one thing for a pastor or leader to push back on a baptism request because of something they see in the individual or in the request itself, but in John the Baptist’s case, he is presented with a unique problem.

If baptism is simply a public symbol of washing one’s past sins away, then Jesus would have had no reason to go into the water. In this respect, John the Baptist is completely justified in his response, “John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’” (v. 14)

But when we look at Jesus’ response, we see an interesting idea presented. Jesus answered John’s pushback by saying, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (v. 15) In Jesus’ response, it is like He is saying, “Let’s do it this way so I can be an example for others to follow.”

John was justified in his pushback. Of everyone who has ever lived, Jesus was the One person who did not need baptism, but at the opening of His ministry, Jesus chooses to be baptized, and one of the reasons for this is because He came to be our example. Jesus became our ultimate example in baptism even though John was technically correct that Jesus should be baptizing him.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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