We come now to the Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ by John The Baptist. Let us first consider that wonderful phrase from Mark 1:9, “In those days Jesus came...” What an awesome glimpse into the everlasting grace of God so few words contain! There are those who believe that Messiah has yet to come and those who say that He never will. But Jesus came at a specific time to a specific place. “When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son…” (Galatians 4:4). He has come to this earth once and He shall return again (Revelation 22:12).
John’s baptism was for repentance leading to the forgiveness of sins, but the Lord Jesus Christ had nothing of which to repent. Jesus was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Nevertheless, He took His place among sinners and identified Himself with the people whom He came to save. Though John the Baptist protested, the Lord instructed him to permit His baptism to be carried out in order to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15), that is, to fulfill the will of the Father.
“Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” (Mark 1:10-11)
As Jesus emerges from the River Jordan, we see one of the most beautiful portraits of the Trinity in the Bible. God the Son looks up and beholds God the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove as the voice of God the Father speaks from Heaven, testifying to and affirming the identity of Jesus Christ. All three Persons of the Godhead are present at this single event where the Son of God is anointed and commissioned for His mission. Mark opened his Gospel by declaring Jesus Christ to be the Son of God (Mark 1:1) and the Father and the Spirit verify this truth.
Hearing The Voice From Heaven
It is interesting to note here that there must have been many people standing by who heard the voice of the Father calling Jesus of Nazareth His Son. I wonder if those people believed the voice of God or not? Perhaps many heard the sound but did not understand the words, much as those who said that it thundered at another instance when God spoke from Heaven (John 12:29). Even so, the Baptist himself surely would have heard the words of the Father clearly spoken and yet he would later struggle with his own doubts (Luke 7:19).
Many skeptics and agnostics insist that if they only had “proof” of God’s existence then they would believe. “Why doesn’t God just speak to us in a clear, audible voice?”, they ask. Well, He has and this event in Scripture is an example. Did it convince anyone? Did anyone believe that Jesus is the Son of God because of the audible voice of God speaking from Heaven? Perhaps some did, but certainly not everyone. Even the mighty man of God, John the Baptist, having heard the voice of God speaking from Heaven would later question whether this was indeed the promised Messiah or if he should, perhaps, look for another.
The point in this is that the believer often looks for assurance and the non-believer looks for evidence in ways that we feel would satisfy our doubts. But time and circumstances can blunt out the sharpest of testimonies causing us to eventually ask, did I really see and hear what I thought I did? If God spoke in an audible voice to the skeptic, would it convince him? Or would he explain it away as thunder clapping, wind blowing, or the figment of his own untrustworthy imagination? If God appeared to him in the flesh, would he then believe? Or would he not rather question His credentials and testimony, demanding ever greater and greater “evidence” supporting the claims of the Almighty? We all feel that our faith would increase exponentially if we could only have some sort of physical, sensory encounter with the Divine, but the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Before moving on, I would like to take a quick look at another misconception which this passage of Scripture refutes. There is a heresy which suggests that God is not a Trinity but has existed in three separate forms or modes at different times in history. In the Old Testament, God was Jehovah. During Christ’s earthly ministry, God manifested Himself as the Son. And in the Church Age since the Day of Pentecost, God has presented Himself as the Holy Spirit. Rather than accepting that God is One God eternally and simultaneously manifested in three Persons, this belief denies God as a Trinity and states that God existed in only one Person of the Godhead at a time. In the modern Church, this belief is known as “Oneness” theology.
There is a great deal of Scriptural support which soundly refutes this notion, but in this single event at the Baptism of Jesus Christ we have a very obvious paradox for the Oneness adherent. For we have before us all three Persons of the Trinity separately manifested at a single time and a single place. The Father did not cease to exist at the arrival of the Son, neither did Jesus “morph” into the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. In fact, the Holy Spirit is the very first individually identified Person of the Trinity mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 1:2)! All three were present at the beginning (cf. John 1:1-2). When we get over into the Book of Revelation at Chapters 4 and 5, we see the Great Throne of God with all three Persons of the Trinity present. Chapter 4 shows us the Father seated upon the Throne with the Holy Spirit present (v. 5), as well as the Lord Jesus (the “Lamb”) present with the Holy Spirit (Rev. 5:6) standing before the Throne. According to this, we see that all three Persons of the Trinity will continue to be manifested throughout eternity.
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published July 17, 2014]
**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?”]