The Man Who Was Not Ashamed to Be Baptized

Daily Devotion | Day 288

“And John tried to prevent Him, saying “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness’” (Matthew 3:14-15, NKJV).

John had one mission: to prepare the way for the Messiah and to introduce Him to Israel. He knew who he was and who he wasn’t (John 1:19-26). Many in Israel responded well to his message. They came to John confessing their sins and to be baptized by him (Matthew 3:5).

One day, while John was ministering, Someone came to him to be baptized. It was Jesus. John was stunned. Jesus wasn’t supposed to be there. In fact, Jesus didn’t meet the requirements for baptism. To request baptism, people had to acknowledge their sin, repent (and confess). Therefore, anyone who didn’t know Jesus would assume that He – like everyone else – was a sinner seeking reconciliation with God. John must have felt embarrassed at the sight of Jesus standing in line for baptism. He rightly tried to prevent Jesus, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”

Jesus knew John was right to refuse to baptize Him. In the end, however, John was persuaded when Jesus appealed to righteousness. “Permit it to be so now,” Jesus said, “for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” We can identify two important points in Jesus’ statement. First, He talks about the importance of fulfilling all righteousness. Jesus understood Scripture prophecies about Him. He knew that He had to be like us in all things. About thirty years prior to this encounter with John, the Son of God fulfilled prophecy by becoming flesh (John 1:14).

The time had now come for Jesus to be publicly initiated into his Messianic ministry. As part of this initiation, it was important for Jesus to show that He came to redeem Israel from sin (Matthew 1:21). Additionally, His baptism would underscore the fact that He fully embraced Israel’s burden of sin and their need for decisive victory over it. Entering the waters of baptism was, therefore, symbolically (and spiritually) significant. Doing this, for Jesus, was a fulfilling of God’s righteousness because it agreed with the Father’s will as expressed in multiple Messianic prophecies (notably Isaiah 53).

Second, Jesus spoke in the plural when He said to John, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus recognized that He and John were co-workers. They were a team working together to accomplish one goal. They had different but complementary missions. John’s mission needed Jesus’ mission to be authenticated (John 3:25-30). At the same time, Jesus’ mission relied on John’s successful preparation of Israel via the message of repentance (Luke 3:1-6).

To sum up, Jesus was not ashamed to enter the waters of baptism alongside sinners. We shouldn’t be ashamed either to be crucified and buried with Him in baptism (Romans 6:1-4). Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers (Hebrews 2:11). We shouldn’t be ashamed either to confess Him as our Lord and Savior (Luke 9:26; 12:8-9).

BlessingMay your life be a shining testimony to the glory of God. Amen.

For further studyHebrews 2:1-18 

Operating in the Power of Your Supernatural Birth

Daily Devotional: Day 196

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his [Jesus’] name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

In life, it is natural to acquire the traits of those who gave birth to you. As a Christian – born of the Spirit, you acquire the traits of the Spirit. Today’s Scripture is about the supernatural power that comes with being born of God. The Bible is careful to point out that we are not born of blood, nor of the will of man. Instead, it says, we are born of God. Because we believed in Jesus and on His Name, God gave us power to become His children. Who you are born of says a lot about your dignity, your excellence, your nobility, your connections, your power, your privileges and your responsibilities.

 With this new birth comes the supernatural power which gives you victory over satan, sin, the world, fear and all the forces of darkness. You are imbued with the Spirit of God to walk on this earth as an offspring of Deity, a true child of God Almighty. You couldn’t wish for a greater power or a greater honor. Thus, you possess in your spirit the traits of your Heavenly Father.

This means God has high expectations of you. He expects you to excel in displaying His character of love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, patience, boldness and righteousness. You need to get rid of the mindset of defeat, the mindset of failure, the mindset of insecurity, and put on the mindset of your divine Father. Your supernatural authority is based on the fact that you are born of the Most High God. You, therefore, need to stop thinking like a weakling. The forces of darkness must fear you.

Because you are born of the Spirit, be determined to appropriate the supernatural power of your supernatural birth. Be determined to walk according to the Father’s purposes for your life outlined in the Holy Scriptures. You need to stop talking yourself out of victory and start talking yourself into the victory of the sons of God. 

You are born of God to display on earth the excellencies of your FatherDon’t take this lightly. It is the highest honor a creature could hope for – to be born of God. First, God created you in His image and likeness. That was glorious enough. But He didn’t stop there. Through faith in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father has given you a new birth. You couldn’t wish for a better life and a better destiny.

This is why you should be diligent about how you conduct yourself, how you talk, how you dress, how you react to situations, how you behave, the choices you make, the friends you make, the entertainment you participate in, etc. You are created in Christ as an excellent being. You can’t afford to live like someone who isn’t born of God. 

In Christ Jesus, you are no ordinary creature. Change your thinking and your behavior, and conform them to the image of God’s children portrayed in the Scriptures. Embrace your supernatural origin. Experience the difference.

May the Lord grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17). Amen.

For further study: Colossians 1:1-29

Tips for Proposing the Gospel

Daily Devotional: Day 155

“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.  And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved” (Acts 28:23-24, NKJV).

IActs 25:10, Paul appealed to Caesar Augustus. Consequently, per Roman law, Paul was sent to Rome to have his case heard by the Emperor himself. This is the background to today’s Bible passage. Shortly after arriving in Rome, Paul sent for as many Jews as he could invite, welcomed them to his own rented house and shared the Gospel with them. Based on today’s Scripture passage, we will identify four tips for sharing the Gospel.

Tip 1.  When we share the Gospel with people, we should be ready to adequately explain it, testify about it and persuade people about it. While speaking to the Jews about Messiah, Paul did some explaining, some testifying, and some persuading. This approach is based on sound reasoning from the Scriptures which allows the light of the Gospel to be revealed.

Tip 2Being familiar with the Law and the Prophets will come in handy when we minster to people about Christ. Paul persuaded the Jews from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. This tells us that Jesus is in the Law and the Prophets. In other words, He is in the Old Testament scriptures. To be effective witnesses for the Gospel, we need to study, not just the New Testament, but the Old as well. 

Tip 3If we have to spend hours or days or weeks to explain the message of salvation to people, it is worth it Paul shared the message from morning till evening. He had a sense of urgency, but he was in no rush to get people ‘saved.’ The message of salvation is the most important message Jesus entrusted to us. We need not rush through it as it unfortunately happens today with the ‘sinner’s prayer’ or ‘salvation prayer’ and ‘altar call’ Christians have invented.

People deserve to understand the details and the implications of what they are being invited to accept, and we should make time for it. If we can spend weeks preparing for summer picnic, we certainly can make time to explain the Gospel message to those we are inviting to believe in Jesus. Let’s offer people time to reflect on the message we deliver, pray about it, process it, be convicted by it, verify what we’ve said, ask questions, and give feedback. This is the approach we see in the New Testament. 

Tip 4The Gospel is proposed, not imposedSome people believed Paul, others did not. You should not ‘push’ people to believe anything. You should not employ any form of manipulation (emotional, psychological or spiritual) to make people sign up for your message. Don’t do anything to interfere with people’s free will and intelligence. Those who accept the message, have them baptized, and help them to mature. Those who don’t accept, let them go. It’s their right. 

May the Lord equip you with wisdom for proclaiming His message! Amen.

For further study: John 6:28-69