Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Why Did Jesus Ask John to Baptize Him?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever wondered why Jesus asked John to baptize Him? Wasn't He sinless? Wasn't John sent to baptize only people who had repented (Matt. 3:11)? Why this anomaly?

True--Jesus was totally sinless, and John was sent to baptize sinners only, and then only if they repented. When Jesus asked John, he "tried to prevent Him" because he knew He was sinless (vss. 13, 14). It makes more sense for You to baptize me, John said.

As Matthew writes, Jesus gave John a Bible study, extensive and thorough. He explained how the Father had sent Him to be the Lamb of God. As sinners at the sanctuary placed their hands on the head of an innocent lamb and transferred to it their sins, so Jesus was taking upon Himself all the sins of the whole world, "made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21), "having become a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13). He put Himself in the place of every sinner, and took the guilt upon His own heart.

Carrying this load, Jesus experienced repentance in behalf of every sinner. Without joining in our sin, He felt how every sinner feels. He prayed for us all, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." So terrible was the weight of our sin that He hardly felt the physical agony of the crucifixion. He was terribly tempted to conclude that His Father had forsaken Him, and that cry of despair was no actor's script: "My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

The death Jesus died was the equivalent of our second death (read Psalm 22). He didn't go to sleep for three days and three nights. "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3, 4), was resurrected from the dead, not from mere sleep, and went to hell itself in order to save us from hell itself (Acts 2:27). All this Jesus had to explain to John, until the prophet could see in Him "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (as he said the next day, John 1:29).

The repentance Jesus experienced in our behalf was not personal, for He had no sin of His own. It had to be a corporate repentance. As we grow closer to Him, we identify with Him. We learn that we have no righteousness inherited by our DNA; the sins of others would be our sins--but for the grace of a Savior, and then we can forgive others as we have been forgiven by Him. We will be like Him--experiencing a corporate repentance.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 15, 2003.
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