John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”—Matt. 3:14
John the Baptist’s initial reluctance to baptize Jesus is a testimony to Jesus’ sinlessness—and John’s awareness of his own sinfulness.
In effect, John said to Jesus, “I’m a sinner, just like everyone else I baptize, so why should You, the sinless Son of God, want me to baptize You?” In an indirect yet definite fashion, John agreed with the later description of Christ by the writer of Hebrews, “One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (4:15).
Jesus Himself testified to His perfect righteousness and His reason for wanting to be baptized, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). Jesus’ words did not deny His superiority to John the Baptist or His sinlessness. “Permit it at this time” is an idiomatic expression meaning that Christ’s baptism, though seemingly not appropriate or necessary, was actually appropriate for this special time.
The Lord understood John’s strong hesitation, and knew it came from deep spiritual commitment and sincerity. Thus He gave John divine permission to do what he was otherwise reluctant to do, so he could perfectly fulfill the Father’s plan.
|How do you think you would have reacted to Jesus’ request for baptism? How do you react today when you’re in His presence, in awe of His holiness and purity? Pray for the spiritual understanding to know that by His grace, He has washed this same righteousness over you.|