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Words of Faith 3-14-18

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Luke 3

   [21] When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened [22] and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."


       The revival was in progress. John was preaching away, calling the people to repentance. John was proclaiming the coming of Messiah and suddenly He was there! It is a remarkable scene to imagine. One minute John was preaching about the "one greater who was coming," one whose sandals he was not worthy to untie, one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The next minute that very man was before him seeking to be baptized!

       The purpose of the baptism was to anoint Jesus with the Spirit and to authenticate Him by the Father for beginning His ministry. Each Person of the Godhead was involved in the activity of the Son on earth, including His baptism. The Son was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Him, and the Father spoke words confirming and approving of Jesus. Jesus was baptized, not because He was a sinner in need of repentance, but as a way of identifying himself with those He came to save and as an example to us. When John was reluctant to baptize Him, Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented (Matthew 3:15).

       Only Luke states Jesus was praying at this baptism event. Luke presents Jesus as praying in or before many occasions in His life. When Luke recorded that heaven was opened, he was conveying the idea that God was breaking into human history with revelation-- sovereignly declaring that Jesus is His Son.

     God showed up in a powerful way at this baptism. God had appeared in Old Testament times in a physical manifestation such as the three men under the oaks of Mamre, the burning bush, cloud by day and fire by night, and the fourth man in the fiery furnace. These are called theophanies. At the baptism of Jesus, the Spirit appeared as a dove. Only Luke has the expression "in bodily form," giving even more substance to the experience of the Spirit's presence.

       Luke does not say that anyone other than Jesus was aware of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps others present saw only a dove without realizing its significance. The descent of the Spirit is reminiscent of Genesis 1:2-- “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" but no specific parallel is drawn. Since the dove was a symbol of peace or freedom from judgment, the Holy Spirit's presence like a dove signified that Jesus would bring salvation to those who turn to Him.

       The voice of God authenticated Jesus by alluding to Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1. "You are my Son, whom I love". This designates Jesus as the unique Son of God. The words, like those heard at the Transfiguration are a blend of Old Testament christological passages: Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1. The words "love" and "well pleased" convey the idea of choice and special relationship. Jesus was fully human. He had grown up within the Jewish faith in Galilee. Now He had received his commission from the Father. He was ready to begin His ministry.

       One of my favorite Bible questions is this: What did Jesus know about Himself and when did He know it? Did Mary share with Him the special destiny that had been revealed to her by the Angel? Did He sense His uniqueness? Did He practice walking on water as a teenager? We don't know the answers to those questions. If Jesus did understand Himself to be unique and a gift to the world, all that was certainly clarified and confirmed in His baptism.

       What does this say about baptism for us as believers? It may be as simple as this. If Jesus was baptized, then perhaps I should be, too! We are baptized for a different reason than Jesus. We are baptized to identify with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Baptism does not change us but it celebrates Jesus' claim on us. Baptism declares publicly, I belong to Jesus and I walk in His new Life.

       Have you been baptized as a believer? It is a timely and important thing to pray about. Baptism does not save us but it is a faithful act of obedience to the Lord who has saved us. "Repent and be baptized" was the earliest invitation of the Gospel.


       Father God, I thank You for Your Son Jesus. I give thanks for Your confirmation in His life and ministry. Lead me in the paths You have for me. Show me any decision that I need to make for You today. In Jesus' name.