The baptism of Jesus was the official anointing and declaration of Jesus as Christ, the Son of God to Israel. The details of this event were a composite witness that occurred just prior to the start of His ministry. The fulness of time had come: The Son of God was about to be sent forth, but not without a witness from heaven. It must be understood that along with John’s preaching, the appearance of the Spirit in the form of a dove and the Father speaking from heaven did not give witness to three persons within God’s being. God’s speaking from heaven and the Spirit’s anointing all were directed at Christ. While the Bible does teach the Father, Son and Holy Ghost as distinct expressions that describe the one God, this account does not teach that these expressions are three distinct persons within the being of God. This leads to a separation of God’s complete revelation in Jesus Christ. If we observe the Scripture’s explanations about God speaking from heaven and His Spirit descending on Christ, we will understand that this event does not testify to the three persons of the trinity but give a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ. Also revealed by this account is the New Covenant way of living: the sons of God having access to the heavens by the indwelling of the Spirit of God.
Pastor Daryl Cox/February 11, 2013
Calling of Christ
The Calling of Christ is superior to all the callings and appointments of men and women of God recorded in the Old Testament. The title Christ comes from the Greek word Christos. It means the anointed one. It is synonymous with the Hebrew word for Messiah, Masiah. The Hebrew and Greek words for anoint indicate the smearing or rubbing with oil and consecrating to an office or service. The reference is to God’s Holy One, Christ: “He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20 KJV). As the Lord’s Christ, Jesus is called and anointed as the Prophet, Priest and King spoken of throughout the Old Testament. The anointing occurred at His baptism. His anointing was with the unlimited measure of the Holy Ghost to fulfill His calling and all that was written of Him (Luke 4:17-21, John 3:34-35). God’s act of redemption was accomplished in His anointed (2 Cor 5:19). The anointing of Christ not only was limited to His earthly callings as Prophet, Priest and King as other men were; but also, His anointing revealed Him as the Christ, God in flesh. He did not become God at His baptism, but the God of the Old Testament was confirmed in Him by the Holy Ghost. Our redemption requires not only a human being, but God who alone had the power to redeem (1 Cor 15:21-22). The Bible states “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:8-9). When the Bible declares the existence of the one God, He is called the Father (John 17:3, 1 Cor 8:6, Eph 4:6). Father is the title that describes God in relationship to Creation, the Church and to Christ. The relationship between God and Christ must be understood as the God and human relationship of the incarnation: the union of God and man in the person of Christ. As Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). The title Christ identifies Jesus as both God and man.
The Baptism of Jesus
The four Gospel authors record the baptism of Jesus. The Apostle John omits the detail of God speaking from heaven from his Gospel, but he does record the account of the Spirit’s descent in the form of a dove with an explanation. He records the words of John the Baptist “And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:33-34). John the Baptist knew Jesus as a family relative, but not as the Son of God. He knew of Jesus, the angelic visitations and His virgin birth from his parents, but he was to receive a revelation from God that would confirm what had been told him. It was not until the Spirit descended upon Jesus that John saw Him as He truly was. True ministry must be based on the leading of the Spirit and revelation of Scripture and not just tradition. The Spirit’s descent upon Christ was an authoritative and public anointing that declared Him to be the Son of God. God speaking from heaven was an additional witness to the people of who Jesus of Nazareth was. Both the Spirit and the voice from heaven were the Father’s witness of Jesus (Luke 4:18, John 5:37 and Acts 10:38). The presence of the Spirit was a distinct operation of God in anointing and not another person of the Godhead. The opening of the heavens to Christ revealed the Holy Ghost would permanently rest upon Him. From Jesus came mighty miracles, signs and wonders in the lives of the people of Israel. The presence of the Spirit gives God’s people access to His eternal glory and all He ordained for them. In the present Church age, the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of adoption that allows us to be called sons of God.
Identity of Jesus
The Father speaking from heaven declared the identity of Jesus before all who were present at His baptism. Matthew records “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matt 3:16-17). God declared Jesus to be His Son. It also is interesting what God further states. He declares that Jesus was His Son in whom He was well pleased. The omnipresent God declared from heaven His presence in His Son. The baptism of Jesus did not reveal God as another person with a separate identity, but it revealed God the Father in the person of Jesus Christ. To behold the Son of God is to behold God in flesh. The incarnation allows us to call Jesus our Father without denying He is the Father’s Son (Isa 9:6). Paul says “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace” (2 Thess 2:16). The subject of this verse is “our Lord Jesus Christ himself” our Lord and God, even our Father, who loved us. This verse declares Jesus to be our Father and closely associates it His death on the cross. What makes the giving of God’s Son in death a unique expression of His love for us is that He was God in flesh. He did not send someone else. He came as a man Himself. This act made possible the New Covenant relationship: God with us in favor and in us by His Spirit.
My Beloved, in Whom I Am Well Pleased
Matthew records two other times these same words were spoken with regards to Jesus. In Matt 12:38, the Gospel author quotes Isa 42:1 “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. In this passage, God declared His soul (His very being) was pleased to be in His beloved servant, Christ. And finally, at what is called the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John saw the form of Jesus lifted from lowliness and began to shine forth with His glory. A cloud overshadowed them, and God spoke out of that cloud saying once again “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matt 17:5). The glory they saw emanating from Christ was the Father. They were commanded to hear Christ, for His message is superior to that of Moses and Elijah, who were also present. The Gospel is a greater message, for it is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke and taught with an authority greater than the inspired writings of the Old Testament, and the Gospel is the declaration of His lordship and victory over sin and death that gives eternal life. We are to follow it and the interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures given by His apostles. Three thoughts are to be observed from these three accounts: First, Jesus is the beloved Son of God; second, Jesus is the Son, chosen and anointed with the Spirit of God as a servant; and third, Jesus is the Son in whom the Father is pleased to dwell. When we look at the foregoing passages, we come to a conclusion that is Christ centered and rich with insight about God’s omnipresence; His incarnation in Christ; the anointing of Christ and the preeminence of the Gospel. The anointing of the Holy Ghost draws our attention to Christ where the Father is revealed in Him. These three thoughts are supported in two different passages. In 2 Cor 5:19 it says, “To wit, that God was in Christ (the Anointed), reconciling the world unto himself: John 14:10 reiterates this same, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”
In conclusion, the baptism of Jesus gives us a powerful witness of Jesus as the Christ. John said he came baptizing with water to present the Messiah, and it was during Christ’s baptism that a powerful testimony was given. Although the account speaks of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the application of the context from each Gospel gives us a good understanding of Christ’s revelation to Israel. The omnipresence of God is the key to understanding this account (1 Kings 8:27). We must know that God can manifest Himself simultaneously at once and everywhere without dividing His nature or identity. He did speak from heaven while His Spirit descended upon His Son being baptized. Christ’s baptism marked the beginning of His great ministry, as well as demonstrated His authoritative anointing as the Servant of God and the power that would be manifested in His ministry, death and resurrection for our redemption. We must understand that the focus of this twofold manifestation of God is toward the person of Jesus Christ and not two other distinct persons. This account confirms Jesus to be the one God in flesh: ”For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). It also reveals what we were to become through New Birth, the sons of God. These points also help confirm that the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost commanded for Christian baptism is Jesus according to Matt 28:19 and Acts 2:38. The permanent resting of the Holy Ghost upon Christ testifies of God living in us by His Spirit and the inheritance that is ours in Him.
Pastor Daryl Cox