Monday, September 14, 2015
“Then Jesus traveled from the land of Galilee to the Jordan River where John was, so that John could immerse him. But John was trying to stop him. John said, ‘I need you to immerse me, yet you are coming to me!?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Allow this for now, because this is the proper way for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John did so.” (Matthew 3:13-15 IEB).
Have you ever read this passage with a question mark? Jesus was the perfect Son of God. Perfection does not need “the remission of sins.” John’s immersion was “for the remission of sins.” Why would Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, the Son of God, and the Messiah or Christ, need the remission of sins? He wouldn’t. He grants that forgiveness to others. Prior to being arrested and while instituting his communion, he said the fruit of the vine was his blood poured out “for the remission of sins.”
Yet, here he is coming to his cousin John to be immersed. John doesn’t want to immerse him and I understand why. A sinner doesn’t immerse the perfect Son of God. The perfect one immerses the sinner! Jesus silences John with, “Allow this for now, because this is the proper way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus doesn’t need “forgiveness of sins,” but though he is perfectly sinless, he still wants to be the Son of Man and be immersed as an example, showing all sinners what is right. How do you “fulfill all righteousness?” You certainly do not ignore and leave off immersion. If one refuses, he does something that the perfect Son of God did not do!
Jesus thought immersion in water was important and wanted to submit to it because he would fulfill all righteousness by doing so. So, why do some who are believers hold back in following Jesus’ example?
Folks have argued over what the word “for” in the expression, “for the remission of sins” means. Some say it means you’ve already received that remission prior to baptism (Romans 4:1-5). Others say you receive it after you’ve been buried and raised with Jesus (Romans 6:2-6). The argument often gets heated, even from cool heads! However, who can successfully argue against the Lord’s example?
If Jesus found it necessary to seek out his cousin so John could immerse him, should it not be just as important to us? Did Jesus need this immersion? He did if he was to “fulfill all righteousness.” Shouldn’t we want to fulfill that same righteousness as our Lord did? If it was important to him who never sinned, shouldn’t it be more important for us who do?