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Entries in Water Baptism (1)


Let the Spirit Descend

Today we are going to continue discovering the True Jesus as we look at His water baptism and the signs from God following it.  In Luke 3:21-22 we are given a very brief account of the baptism of Jesus.  Luke focuses on the signs that were given at the baptism.  However, in the other gospels we are able to pick up other important details of this event.

We Resist The Holy Spirit

In Matthew 3:14 we are told that when Jesus came to John in order to be baptized, John tried to prevent him.  Now it is obvious that the wicked will resist the Spirit of God and His leading.  And, we can see how even those who claim to know Him can resist where He is leading (i.e. Pharisees, and Sadducees).  Yet, here we see that even those who are closest to the Lord can let their own thoughts and flesh get in the way of where God is leading.  Yes, John means well.  And, yes, what He says is true.  Jesus doesn’t need to be baptized as a means of repentance.  And John is the one who needs baptized by Jesus.  However, his mistake is in his conclusion.  We often make the mistake of good intentions.  We use human reasoning that begins with biblical truths, but then we err in our conclusions.  If Jesus truly is the Messiah, and the one who is so intimately involved with God’s Spirit that He would baptize people in the Spirit, then we should listen to him and not vice versa.

Good intentions and biblical reasoning does not always choose best.  We see this with Peter as Jesus was approaching the cross.  Peter’s reasoning cannot accept that Jesus should be killed and so he tries to prevent Jesus from believing such a fate.  However, Jesus rebukes him and points out that he is concerned with selfish reasons and not concerned about what God wants.  The sooner we can discover that we simply need to follow Jesus rather than instructing Jesus the better we will be.  In fact immediately after telling Peter he was wrong, Jesus then told his disciples that if they wanted to follow Him they would have to pick up their own cross and follow him (i.e. not only am I going to die, but you need to also). 

John is falling into this same trap.  In fact it might even send the wrong message to have Jesus baptized.  Some may think he needs repentance.  Yet, the Father and Son had worked this out in eternity past.  Let’s look at the response to John Jesus gave in Matthew 3:15, “Permit it to be so now.  For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”    Jesus didn’t rebuke John, but he did correct him.  This was not a theological debate, it was the plan of God. Pause and think about that for a moment.  Don’t we often have theological debates with God when we don’t things are headed in the right direction?  But the issue is not really about theology, but rather what is God doing.  In fact our theology should have room for this: He is God and I am not.  Therefore He will do the planning and I will do the following.

Jesus used the term “fitting.”  The best illustration I can use of this is the difference between a schematic blue print and a painting of a cathedral.  God always has a blueprint that is exact and follows certain realities and Truth.  However, He is also an artist.  And, art is not so much about rules as it is about the character and imagination of the one doing it.  Jesus being baptized was not theologically necessary, but it was an artistic flourish that was “fitting” or perfect!  It was an act of beauty in which the Father determines to reveal the messiah in an act of humility.  It also is fitting for the one who would later say pick up your cross to lead his disciples.  So here Jesus walks the path that actually leads to himself and it begins with public humility and surrender to God’s way of salvation.  Jesus was less concerned with his reputation and more concerned with our need for him.

Thus as it is fitting for Jesus to embrace the Father’s plan of revealing who He was during a water baptism, so it is fitting for us to submit to Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our life.  We have to be careful of an attitude and mentality that only does what is necessary or fits the blueprint that we think God should be following.  It is a signature trait of God’s that he doesn’t just do what is right.  He often blows on past what is right and does what is jaw-dropping, amazingly, beautiful, fitting, and perfect!

John didn’t understand the why, but he did understand the who, and so he relents.  If we too will relent and trust God, He will reveal the beautiful things that He is doing in our lives as well.

Confirmed With Heavenly Signs

Now let’s look at what John the Disciple had to say about this event.  In John 1:33-34, we are given a look behind the curtain from John the Baptist.  John says that initially he didn’t know who the Messiah was for sure.  But God had told him to go forth baptizing and when he saw the Spirit descend on a man and remain with him that would be the Anointed One.  So Jesus is not just the Messiah who would save Israel, but He is also the One on whom the Spirit rests.  John was actually baptizing for two reasons.  First, he baptized to prepare people for the messiah.  Second, he baptized so that God could reveal who the Messiah was. 

John testifies that he saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove come down and land upon Jesus.  But then he recognized that the Spirit stayed upon Jesus.  Just in case John would miss this, God confirms the sign by a voice from heaven.  “You are My beloved Son.  In You I am well pleased.”  These two heavenly signs were enough for John to declare that Jesus was the messiah.  They are powerful signs by themselves.  But remember John was told in advance what he would see.  John was convinced and gave himself to convincing his followers that Jesus was the messiah. 

Yet, notice how John refers to Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God.”  John knew the Scriptures and recognized that Jesus didn’t just come to deliver Israel from the Romans.  Rather He came to deal with their greater enemy: sin.  He was the lamb that God provided as prophesied by Abraham on the mount with Isaac.  He was here to take away the sins of the world.

The Spirit Rests On Jesus

Let’s end by focusing on the Spirit remaining or resting upon Jesus.  Isaiah spoke of the Messiah in these terms in Isaiah 11:2 when he said that the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon Him.  Now we have several images operating here that symbolize something powerful.  So I will do my best to tie it all together.

First, notice the dove.  The dove is given as the symbol of the Holy Spirit coming down upon Jesus.  Later Jesus connects the dove with innocence or purity.  “Be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.”  The dove is also connected with the Great Flood and Noah.  After God had poured out His judgment upon the earth, the dove was sent out to see if there was any life, any place it could rest itself.  This image of a pure innocent dove flapping all over the earth looking for any sign of life on which it may rest is anchored in this account for a reason.  It demonstrates the heart of God.  Even in judgment His heart and hope is to find those upon whom he can land, and rest, and with whom He can commune and have relationship.  Just as the devil goes to and fro throughout the earth like a lion seeking whom he may devour, so the Holy Spirit goes to and fro throughout the earth like a dove seeking on whom He may rest.  This helps us to understand Jesus and His role.  He is that lone olive branch that was finally found by the Holy Spirit.  And, because Jesus has been given the Spirit without measure, He in turn immerses those who believe in Him within that same Spirit.  We can become a resting place of the Spirit, not because we had life in and of ourselves, but because we have come to Jesus and received life through Him.  In fact, the Spirit is life.  Let the Spirit descend in your life.  As poetic as it may sound, you will find the Life that created the universe residing in your soul and leading you in ways that won’t always make sense, but they will end in beauty.

Spirit Descend Audio