Kevin Adams on Just as Jesus’ Baptism Launched His Public Ministry, Our Own Baptisms Ordinate Us to a Life of Humble Obedience and Costly Service.

All four Gospels tell the story of Jesus’ baptism, as if every reader needs to hear it. Jesus’ cousin John, outfitted in a garment made of camel’s hair and a rustic leather belt, has set up camp in an unmarked wilderness to preach and prophesy. Everyone comes out to listen: the pious and the profane. The bankrupt and the ruined. The broken and the eccentric. Religious misfits and spiritual castoffs. All get a dose of John’s caustic threats and stern warnings. Each hears the message of impending judgment. Many confess and are baptized, one repentant sinner after another. And then Jesus, the Messiah, gets in line as if he’s in a Costco checkout.

Each Gospel offers its own angle on the story. Mark starts his Gospel with it, skipping Christmas as incidental and quickly launching into Jesus’ ministry. Luke copies much of Mark’s detail, following the gist of his telling but refusing to mention the involvement of the eccentric cousin. John emphasizes the Spirit lingering on Jesus like a dove, avoiding any awkward mention of an actual baptism.

The unique feature of Matthew’s version is the cousin conversation. John admires Jesus. He believes in Jesus. That’s exactly why he rebuts Jesus. He can’t stomach Jesus’ baptismal plan. Not one to hold back his opinions, John protests: Jesus shouldn’t be in the same line as the dreck of humanity. John’s baptismal liturgy is consistent: Repent, be baptized, live a new life. Why is Jesus in that line? What does he have to repent of?

The baptizer’s harsh, prophetic words can’t apply to the Savior. So he asserts that Jesus’ baptismal plans are backward. If one cousin is to baptize the other, Jesus should baptize him. The innocent should be the one baptizing, not the professional baptizer. “I need to be baptized by you,” John says, “and do you come to me?” (Matt. 3:14).

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Source: Christianity Today