Duty or Mutiny
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 3:15b Holman Then he allowed Him [to be baptized].
Jesus was holier than John (v. 14), and wiser. Thus John acquiesced. John had refused to baptize the self-righteous religious leaders because they were not worthy of his baptism. “Now he had trouble baptizing Jesus because his baptism is not worthy of Jesus” (Gaebelein). When Jesus went down into the water, baptism did not bless Him; He blessed baptism.
Jesus merged two covenants in His immersion. The Prophetic, Kingly, and Priestly lines went down into the water with Jesus, and came up in Him.
All believers should be immersed. A sailor, trying to convince another to be baptized, said, “It is duty or mutiny”. My Grandpa said, “You don’t have to be baptized to be saved, but if you are saved you will be baptized.”
Matt. 3:16a After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from
the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him,. . .
In case anyone might have doubted that John did the right thing by baptizing Jesus, the onlookers were given an astounding confirmation. A portal opened between our realm and another, proving that beyond this material world is a spiritual world that is highly interested in us. Beings in a different land look over us, ready to help us and welcome us to their home.
Sometimes we need to let our thoughts break through the thick veil of matter we find ourselves encased in. However difficult this world becomes, a better one awaits us. We think of Heaven as being up, but are not sure of its location. Wherever it is, it contains the fair garden of God where we shall walk with Him in the cool of the day, as Adam did before he sinned.
Sin closed Heaven to us, thereby stopping friendly communication between the two worlds. At Jesus’ baptism, the heavens reopened to us.
The sky parting above Jesus at His baptism showed how close He was to the Father. At Jesus’ death, the veil of the temple parted to show how close we could be to Jesus. We draw near to Jesus who is close to the Father. This sequence lets us know we can come before the throne of grace boldly.
We need for undeniable evidences of power and blessing to descend on us again from above. Pray with Isaiah (64:1), “If only You would tear the heavens open”—God, let us see incredible possibilities available to us in the spiritual world–“and come down”—God, let Your power we see fall on us.
Matt. 3:16b . . .and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and
coming down on Him.
This coronation of our King bestowed no new power on Jesus, but did prove His absolute bond with, and utter dependence on, the Holy Spirit. The Third Person of the Trinity, being invisible, had to find a way to let everyone know He was present at the Jordan, and vitally involved in Jesus’ ministry.
Since it was the heavens above that opened, the Holy Spirit appropriately chose to manifest Himself in the form of a bird. A land animal or sea creature would have looked preposterous flying through the air.
The Spirit, careful about the message He wanted to convey, appeared not as a crow or eagle, but in the form of a dove, a common symbol of purity and gentleness. It was the perfect anointing symbol for God’s perfect Son.
Jesus was sinless, unblemished, perfect, the ideal man. Being a real man does not entail being macho or sinning. It means being baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire, and ever realizing our need for power from above.
Men, hear me. Absentee-fathers is the number one social ill in our society. I urge us, men be men. Aspire to be like our only perfect role model, Jesus. Real men do tough things, like staying married, leading their wife to Godliness, and raising children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
The word “husband” means house-band, the one who is to hold a family unit together. Men must embrace the roles they were created to fill.
Beware erroneous bravado-definitions of masculinity. I am grateful for physical fitness; I try to walk daily for my health. I appreciate athletic achievements; when in school I played baseball, basketball, and ran track.
The Bible says “bodily exercise profits little” (1 TM 4:8). Be sure to read this closely, it profits “little”, not “none”. Exercise does profit some.
It is good to exercise, but in Heaven no trophies will be dispensed for bodybuilding, workouts, weight lifting, and athletic prowess. The eternal trophies will be dispensed according to holiness, to how close to God we walked, and how well we treated others, including our spouse and children.
Be like Jesus. Some say this is an unrealistic, totally unattainable goal because He was God, and we are human. This is a debate worth undertaking.
Jesus was without doubt deity, co-existent with the Father and the Holy Spirit from time immemorial. When He entered our world at Bethlehem, He emptied Himself of certain divine prerogatives (PH 2:7), one being human behavior. By His own Sovereign choice, He made Himself completely dependent on the Father and Holy Spirit in matters of conduct. He opted to do nothing but what the Father did, and the Spirit empowered. The Son did what the Father smiled on, and what the Spirit enabled.
Jesus was One Person with two natures, one divine, one human, 100% God, 100% man. By His own self-governing choice, He autonomously decided His success as a human would require, as ours does, a continual reliance upon the inner workings of the Holy Spirit. We are to imitate what Jesus was able to do based on His assistance from the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes His deity flashed through. He read minds, fed 5000, and walked on water, but His behavioral obedience to holiness, and His effective praying, were due to His total dependence on the Holy Spirit. This is why He can be an example for us. The same Holy Spirit that kept Him pure, that empowered Jesus’ sinless perfection, indwells us, and wants to empower us.
In my years of preaching, I have not adequately pointed out often enough the connection between the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit made it possible for Jesus to be conceived in Mary’s womb (MT 1:18). The Spirit descended on Jesus at His baptism. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit (AC 10:38). Christ was always filled with the Holy Spirit (JN 3:34). He drove out demons by the Holy Spirit (MT 12:28). Jesus was able to preach to the poor, proclaim freedom to the captives, and set the oppressed free because the Spirit of the Lord was on Him (LK 4:18).
This truth especially blesses us when we remember Jesus keeps no good thing to Himself. Because He loves us, every blessing Jesus enjoys He imparts to us. Jesus has Holy Spirit power, and gives the same to us.
In His death, He poured out His life, a life filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus released and distributed the Holy Spirit to us. Through His shed blood, life and power flow our way, and we share Heaven’s celestial living.
To know Jesus is not only an escape from Hell, nor is it primarily a means of pardon. Think higher than that. We must understand our standing in Christ as God’s very self and life coming into us. This “is the highest thought that we can have of what the Gospel does for us” (Maclaren).