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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

The First Sunday After Epiphany/
Baptism Of Our Lord

Option #1: "Jesus' Baptism--What Does This Mean?"
Matthew 3:13-17
Rev. Wayne Dobratz 

I. It was Jesus’ “installation” into His work
    A. As our Prophet–John 5:37-40

    B. As our High Priest–John 12:27-33

    C As our King–Isa 42:1-4
II. For His disciples

      A. He was carrying our sins, so He was baptized for us–Isa 53:4-5
      B. To be “in Christ” means to be forgiven of sin–Rom 6:3-4, 23; 8:1; Gal 3:26-27 
      C. The Spirit is upon Him and comes from Him–John 1:31-34, 14:26-27, 15:26
      D. He gives the Spirit to those who are baptized–John 3:5-8, 16:13, Rom 8:2, passim 
      E. He has the Father’s seal of approval–Zech 4:6, text, v17; Matt 17:5; Heb 7:26ff 

Richard Lenski explains v15 re: It is proper for us fulfill all righteousness: “It was not law but Gospel, not a demand to obey but a gift of grace to be received and accepted as such. ...Jesus is choosing Baptism by John as the right way to enter upon his great office, and he is doing this with a fine sense of propriety. He, the sinless One, the very Son of God, chooses to put himself alongside of all the sinful ones for whom this Sacrament was ordained. By thus joining himself to all these instances of John’s Baptism he signifies that he is now ready take upon himself the load of all sinners–to assume his redemptive office. ... This office had to be assumed voluntarily. Shortly after his Baptism, John calls Jesus the Lamb of God, referring directly to the sacrifice. Jesus himself calls his suffering a Baptism in Lk.12:50 and elsewhere.”
John MacArthur writes:

Jesus came into the world to identify with men; and to identify with men is to identify with sin. He could not purchase righteousness for mankind if He did not identify with mankind’s sin. Hundreds of years before Christ’s coming, Isaiah had declared that the Messiah “was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12). 

Jesus’ baptism also represented the willing identification of the sinless Son of God with the sinful people He came to save. That was the first act of His ministry, the first step in the redemptive plan that He came to fulfill. He who had no sin took His place among those who had no righteousness. He who was without sin submitted to a baptism for sinners. In this act the Savior of the world took His place among the sinners of the world. The sinless Friend of sinners was sent by the Father “in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3); and He
“made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21; cf. Isa. 53:11). There was no other way to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus’ baptism not only was a symbol of His identity with sinners but was also a symbol of His death and resurrection, and therefore a prefigurement of Christian baptism.

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Option #2: "God, the Impartial Marshal"
Acts 10:34-38
Rev. Kelly Bedard

1. God plays no favorites--though He does respect personal character and judges our work

2. Jesus is Lord of all--though all don't openly profess and serve Him now; one day!

3. Christians play no favorites--true internal spirituality is manifested in external fruitfulness


1. (no) prosopoleptes (v34): respecter of persons; an acceptor of persons; one who discriminates

2. phobeo (v35): fear, be afraid, be afraid of, reverence; to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); to put to flight, to flee; to fear, be afraid; to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm; of those startled by strange sights or occurences; of those struck with amazement; to fear, be afraid of one; to fear (i.e. hesitate) to do something (for fear of harm); to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience

3. dikaiosune (v35): righteousness; in a broad sense: state of her/him who is as s/he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God; the doctrine concerning the way in which people may attain a state approved of God; integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting; in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each her/his due

4. kurios (v36): supremacy; Lord, lord, master, sir, Sir; he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord; the possessor and disposer of a thing; the owner; one who has control of the person, the master; in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor; is a title of honour expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master; this title is given to: God, the Messiah

5. chrio (v38): to anoint; consecrating Jesus to the Messianic office and furnishing Him with the necessary powers for its administration; enduing Christians with the gifts of the Holy Spirit

6. A Jewish man would begin every day with a prayer thanking God that he was not a slave, a Gentile, or a woman; a basic part of the Jewish religion in the days of the New Testament was an oath that promised that one would never help a Gentile under any circumstances, even to the extent of giving directions if they were asked--and to the point of even refusing to help a Gentile woman at the point of her sorest need--when she was giving birth--because the result would only be bringing another Gentile into the world.

If a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish community would have a funeral for the Jew and consider them dead. It was thought that to even enter the house of a Gentile made a Jew unclean before God. Ancient Jewish writings tell us of a Gentile woman who came to a rabbi. She confessed that she was a sinner and asked to be admitted to the Jewish faith. "Rabbi," she said, "bring me near." The Rabbi refused and shut the door in her face.

But the Gentiles could give as good as they got from the Jews; they despised Jews as weird traditionalists and believed that they were evil plotters who worshipped pigs--after all, they refused to eat pork!

All of this was to change with the spread of the Gospel; Christianity was the first religion to disregard racial, cultural and national limitations. But remember that when the Jews showed racism they were not being faithful to the Old Testament; the idea that God shows no partiality is also stated in Deuteronomy 10:17 and 2 Chronicles 19:7. (David Guzik)

7. ...that God is no respecter of persons--Not, "I see there is no capricious favoritism with God," for Peter would never imagine such a thing; but (as the next clause shows), "I see that God has respect only to personal character and state in the acceptance of men, national and ecclesiastical distinctions being of no account." (Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible [1871])

8. ...he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness--This being the well-known phraseology of the Old Testament in describing the truly godly man, within the pale of revealed religion, it cannot be alleged that Peter meant it to denote a merely virtuous character, in the heathen sense; and as Peter had learned enough, from the messengers of Cornelius and from his own lips, to convince him that the whole religious character of this Roman officer had been moulded in the Jewish faith, there can be no doubt that the apostle intended to describe exactly such saintship--in its internal spirituality and external fruitfulness--as God had already pronounced to be genuine and approved. (Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible [1871])


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