Matthew 3:16 — The Baptism of Christ, the Pleasure of God
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,
The Gospels tell us amazing and wonderful accounts of Christ and His interaction with the people around Him. One of the most interesting accounts is that of Christ’s baptism. Christ went to John the Baptist specifically to be baptized. The study of Christ’s baptism is a rich and deep and deep subject. Unfortunately, the richness and depth of Christ’s baptism remains lost to much of modern Christianity due to superficial exposition and interpretation. Why did Christ need to be baptized? Christ was baptized so that He could fulfill God’s plan for Him. You must also fulfill God’s plan for your life.
Since John’s baptism was a public profession of true faith, then why did Christ need baptism? Christ did not need to make a public confession of sin because He had never sinned. As a matter of fact, John initially refused to baptize Christ, which is evidence of the sinlessness of Christ. Matthew 3:15 says, “But Jesus answering said to him, Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he permitted Him.” Christ was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. In other words, Christ’s baptism was part of God’s plan for Christ. We will discuss the fulfillment of God’s will in Christian baptism in a few moments, but this still does not exactly tell us the complete significance of Christ’s baptism.
Christ’s baptism was much more than a symbolic act; it was the act which opened His personal ministry signifying the importance of what He would do in the following three years. Our text reveals the importance of Christ. The heavens opened and the Spirit descended as a dove, and the voice of the Father from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’ Compare this verse with two other passages. Isaiah 42:1 says, “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.” The word delights (rason) literally means to satisfy a debt. When Christ died for our sins, God was delighted or pleased that the debt for sin had been satisfied!
Psalm 40:8 says, “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.” Christ fulfilled the will of God and in doing so delighted the Father! The Father was made happy in that Christ did what God desired of Him. Included in the Father’s desire was the baptism of Christ, which was the fulfillment of God’s righteousness in identification with men. Baptism was only part of God’s redemptive plan involving Christ. Christ fulfilled even the little details of God’s righteousness, thus making Him happy.
The Holy Spirit descended as a dove after Christ’s baptism. As the dove landed upon Christ, the dove symbolized the special empowerment of the Holy Spirit upon Christ. Such empowerment does no harm to the ministry or glory of Christ in the sense that it indicated that Christ would be insufficient to handle the ministry He was about to undertake. The Holy Spirit was a sign of God’s blessing upon Christ. Thus, the voice from heaven spoke saying, ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’ The Holy Spirit was involved in the empowering of Christ to undergo the great task of accomplishing God’s pleasure by redeeming mankind. When a Christian is saved, he receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit, a one-time event. The Holy Spirit empowers the Christian to please God in everything he does. In order to please God, the Christian must yield to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit-led Christian will always please the Father as Christ, always Spirit-led, pleased the Father.
What are your thoughts on this verse?
How did Christ please the Father?
What does baptism mean for the believer?
How does the Holy Spirit empower the believer to please the Father?