Jesus Received Baptism
And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter; James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, “Sons of Thunder”. (Mark 3:13-17)
God is perfect. There is no mistake or flaw in what He wills, plans or does. Jesus said to us, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt 5:48). Mankind has weaknesses, but if they obey God’s perfect will, they can become perfect.
God sent His Son into the world to fulfill the righteousness He determined by His plan. Knowing God’s righteousness is faith. The person who knows and does God’s righteousness is righteous. If you do not know what righteousness is, you cannot do it. If you do not do it, you cannot be righteous. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith.” You need to have faith to be justified, but this is impossible if you do not know what righteousness is. You must know righteousness to believe in it, and then you can be justified.
No matter how diligently a person serves in their church, if they do not know about God’s righteousness, their faith will be in great danger. Many people today barely attend service on the Lord’s Day and live a passive faith life because they do not know God’s righteousness. We must thoroughly know what God’s righteousness is. To do this, we need to pay attention to Jesus’ words to John before He was baptized by immersion.
When John the Baptist preached repentance at the Jordan River, many people came to him to be baptized. John gave a baptism of repentance (Mk 1:4). Only humble people confessed they were sinners and came to John to be baptized. But one day, Jesus stood before John. Was He indeed a sinner who needed to repent? John said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” Jesus replied, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” John gave the people a baptism to make them repent, but the baptism Jesus received fulfilled righteousness. God regarded Jesus’ baptism as righteousness. This was God’s will (Mt 3:13-17).
When Jesus was baptized, He went in and out of the water. The earth originally came from water (Gen 1:9). Entering water means entering the earth. Who enters the earth? Those who have died. Entering water means burying the dead. On the other hand, coming out of water means the resurrection. Thus, baptism by immersion means death and the resurrection.
God showed people death and resurrection for the first time through Jesus Christ. In other words, God’s righteousness was shown to the world. This is why Jesus said to John before He was baptized, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15).
Jesus was baptized to fulfill God’s righteousness, and we are baptized to acknowledge Jesus fulfilled God’s righteousness and to unite with His righteousness. In other words, baptism is to unite with Jesus’ death and resurrection. When we do this, God regards us as righteous. This is called ‘justification by faith’.
A person without faith cannot be justified (Rom 3:26). This means a person not interested in Jesus Christ’s works cannot be recognized as righteous. Many Christians today hate participating in church life and only live their faith life moderately. Matthew 22:11-13 says, “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” Being invited to the wedding yet thrown out does not mean you go to hell. This is warning us that there will be those who go to heaven but unable to enter the most holy area.
Some people say, “I don’t know anything about that. I guess I’ll receive something if I pray hard.” This is not the right attitude to have as a believer. We must first know what Jesus did and join in what He did. Jesus does not join us, but we must join in what Jesus achieved.
Until Jesus died on the cross and resurrected, no one knew what He did. Jesus’ work and the world were completely separate. It was only after Jesus went to heaven that people understood, “Ah! So He fulfilled God’s righteousness according to God’s will.” When Jesus spoke about His death, people thought He was warning them about His downfall. One of His disciples said, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” The Lord replied, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Mt 16:22-23). As far as people knew, death was despair. So Jesus’ word and deeds were very disappointing to them. Yet Jesus’ interests were in fulfilling God’s determined righteousness.
God let Jesus die on the cross because, if He did not, mankind could not be saved. This does not mean some things are impossible with God. Even if God did not use this method, He can still save mankind. Nothing is impossible with the Almighty God. But as we understand from Jesus’ words, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,” God regarded Jesus’ death and resurrection as righteousness.
Why do people build a fence and gate around their houses? They indicate: “If you want to enter our house, do not enter by another way, but come through here.” In the same way, Jesus did not die because mankind could not be saved if He did not, but because it was the righteousness determined by God’s will.
Some people do not look at God’s work with foresight, but rashly judge it with shortsightedness. If they cannot understand something, they grumble and say, “God, You are too much! How could You do that?” If the situation improves in a short while, they are pleased and say, “That’s better. Thank You, Lord!” No matter what difficulties come, we should trust in God’s goodness. If you look back, you will later discover God fulfilled good through all of it.
Jesus’ work finally became the Gospel after He went to heaven and it was preached to us. God gave us a chance and said, “If you regard Jesus’ accomplished work as righteousness, I will consider you righteous. Live by His righteousness.” Jesus fulfilled God’s righteousness according to God’s will, and we are justified by the Gospel later preached to us.
Jesus did not die because the situation turned out unexpectedly or because He unwillingly suffered. He fulfilled God’s righteousness according to God’s command. If we acknowledge this, God regards our faith as righteousness and acknowledges us as righteous people. The person who wants to be justified by God must clearly know what Jesus did and regard it as God’s righteousness. On the other hand, the person with no interest in what Jesus did cannot be justified.
When Jesus was baptized, He finally fulfilled death and resurrection by God’s will. We are today baptized in Jesus Christ’s name and united with His death and resurrection. We acknowledge His work as righteousness and climb aboard it. Whether mankind is saved or not, Jesus Christ needed to die and resurrect for God’s determined will. However, God said, “If you believe that what I did is righteousness, you will also be justified and enter where I dwell.” He gave mankind the chance to come aboard His righteousness. Mankind being saved is not a matter of course, but God’s gift (that is, His grace).
Jesus was baptized to fulfill God’s righteousness. After God’s only begotten Son went through the resurrection, God wanted Him to ascend to heaven’s throne. Heaven is the eternal kingdom set up for the Son to be Heir. It was created by God (Heb 1:2). The resurrection is a type of front gate. The One who came from the Father’s bosom needed to go through it to enter heaven. Also, there must first be death for there to be the resurrection.
Genesis 3:22 says, ‘Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”’. Adam knew good and evil—just like the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. When it says ‘good and evil’, this does not mean good and evil deeds. The wages of sin is death. ‘Evil’ refers to death. Who among the Trinity tasted death? The Father and the Holy Spirit never tasted death. Only the Son tasted death and the resurrection. He has authority to die and authority to live again. This is the command He received from His Father (Jn 10:17-18). When God said, “The man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil,” it means we have become able to experience death and resurrection. We are just like Jesus, who received God’s command to die and resurrect. Our baptism means we are united with Jesus, just as it was prophesied: “The man has become like one of Us.”
Death and resurrection is the front gate to enter heaven. God decided His Son to be Heir and created heaven before eternity for Him. God’s Son came from the Father’s bosom two thousand years ago. After He experienced the resurrection, He went up to heaven’s throne. Of course, He had to first taste death to experience the resurrection.
Some people wonder, “No! Are you saying God had no other way?” Of course, everything is possible with God. But God considered the only begotten Son’s death and resurrection as righteousness. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them” (Jn 10:7-8). Jesus was saying that if there was someone who said, “I am the way to heaven” before Him, he was a thief and robber. No one ever became the door to enter heaven before Jesus.
Jesus opened the front gate to enter the glorious kingdom. This is where the eternal throne is. Hebrews 10:19-20 says, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh.” God considered Jesus’ fulfilled work as righteousness. This is the front gate to enter heaven. When a guest climbs over a wall to enter the house, the owner will see and say, “Why are you climbing over the wall? Come through here and go through the door.” Everything is possible with God. God determined righteousness according to His own will; and when Jesus fulfilled this righteousness, He opened the front gate to enter heaven.
Jesus fulfilled God’s righteousness, and you must pass this front gate if you want to enter heaven. No one can enter heaven except through Jesus. Jesus fulfilled God’s righteousness. Whether mankind is saved or not, He fulfilled righteousness, entered heaven and sat on the throne. The Lord gives us a chance and says, “If you believe My work is the front gate and recognize they are God’s righteousness, you can also enter heaven.” Therefore, we acknowledge Jesus’ work as God’s righteousness and are baptized to unite with His righteousness. Our baptism is not merely the going in and out of the water.
Jesus fulfilled God’s righteousness to enter heaven and sit on the throne. We should not judge Jesus’ work with human eyes, but recognize they fulfilled God’s righteousness. No one can enter heaven except through Christ. Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is the front gate to enter heaven.
We should be so thankful to realize all this. The Lord does not need to be concerned if people never heard the Gospel. The Lord saving mankind was His grace, not fulfilment of a duty. As a person goes into the city with an empty car and takes some people with him along the way, the Lord gave us the chance to be saved.
Those who know righteousness will not rebel or complain about God’s work. Rebelling or complaining about God’s work destroys your own spirit. Jesus’ work fulfilled God’s work. We should believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection fulfilled God’s righteousness and be united with His righteousness.
in LET US KNOW JESUS, Chapter 22 “Jesus Received Baptism.”