Jesus Baptized in obedience to Righteousness

Matthew 3:13-17

Overseer Sung-Hyun Kim

When Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized, John stubbornly refused, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” John the Baptist did not know what to do and he thought, ‘How could I baptize such an innocent One? The Pharisees and Sadducees came to me, but they had no intention to repent, so I refused them. Why would the One who should baptize sinners be baptized among sinners?’ However, Jesus commanded, saying to John, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

When the Pharisees and Sadducees came to John the Baptist to be baptized, their intentions were to appear righteous before others and fulfill their own personal righteousness. In contrast, through baptism by John, Jesus aimed to fulfill the righteousness of God, which is to accomplish God’s ministry of salvation. To achieve this, Jesus identified Himself with sinners so that He could save them according to God’s will. In other words, He prepared the qualification for sin of humanity to be transferred to Himself. Thus, Jesus was baptized by John and opened the door to His public life, which ultimately led to His suffering on the cross.

Jesus, who was without sin, was baptized in obedience to righteousness, and this became a model for all Christians who have received the grace of redemption through His obedience. Jesus was much greater than John the Baptist, but He did not neglect or hold contempt for him or his baptism. This is because Jesus, despite being the Son of God, obeyed God thoroughly as a servant under God’s salvation ministry. Therefore, through baptism in Jesus’ name, we now have the privilege of becoming children of God, and we should obey Him as servants of God. Our identity as Christians must be those who obey Christ, and this is who we are meant to be.

Some people believe that the essence of faith is to establish a logical system of knowledge related to faith, and to raise their own righteousness to a certain level by adhering to the principles they lay down. However, this is a misconception. Seeking self-righteousness is close to human nature, making it instinctive and difficult to restrain. As a result, people continuously create something to boast about by seeking their own righteousness, and in doing so, they have a nature to confirm their sense of superiority. If we leave this personality as it is, we cannot accept God’s guidance and will ultimately fall into temptation. This is how we destroy the precious opportunity for salvation given to us through Jesus Christ’s obedience.

God is still guiding us so that we can keep the salvation received through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and participate in God’s ministry for salvation. God’s passion for the ministry of salvation has never cooled off compared to the past. He continues to teach, encourage, and command us through our church. God has made an overseer in each church to guide us specifically, and now demands powerful determination and action from us. God never stays in the past nor He is far away from the present. He is with us at this moment, leading us with a burning passion. Let us move forward in obedient faith before God who is guiding us.

Sermon by Overseer Sung-Hyun Kim
(Lord’s Day Service on February 26, 2023)