Things were quiet yesterday as the disciples were scattered and confused about Friday’s events, but Christ went to the grave with confidence knowing the prophecy of King David:
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. Psalm 16:10
When Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized, John had just prophesied about him saying, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12) Following this terrifying prophecy of the final judgment, the very one who will baptize the world with fire arrived on scene and asked John if he would baptize him with water in a dirty river. John wanted to stop him because he knew the Son of God had no need to participate in a baptism of repentance with sinful men.
The confusion John the Baptist experienced that day was the same confusion many of Christ’s followers had the day he was crucified. How could the conquering King be subject to the dirty water of the Jordan River or death on a cross?
Yet Jesus knew that no one would make it safely across the Jordan unless they went with him.
God has always used water as a source (2 Peter 3:5) and symbol (John 7:37-39) of physical and spiritual life, and also as an instrument of death in delivering judgment. (Genesis 6 and 1 Peter 3:18-21)
Peter identifies the first baptism in the Bible as the waters of the flood in Genesis 6. He then highlights the safe passage of Noah, a righteous man, through the waters of judgment by God’s grace. (1 Peter 3:18-21)
Paul says the Israelites were all baptized into Moses and into the Red Sea. This second baptism is just like Genesis 6. Following God’s prophet, the people of God passed safely through the waters of judgment which deluged and destroyed God’s enemies. (1 Corinthians 10:2, Exodus 15:4)
The next example of baptism is in Joshua 3-4. After the death of Moses, Joshua led Israel safely through the Jordan River, known as the river of judgment, into the Promised Land, a picture of heaven. Once again, the people of God follow God’s prophet safely through judgment.
Like Noah, Moses and Joshua, but in greater fashion, Christ chose to lead God’s people through the waters of judgment. Jesus knew his baptism was necessary in order to fulfill all righteousness. It was not his righteousness, but ours, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” (Romans 8:4)
He was the only man ever baptized who was worthy to spring to life out of that judgment. This was evident at his baptism when IMMEDIATELY coming up out of the waters God declared him to be his beloved Son.
The same thing happened this morning at his resurrection. Christ was clearly cursed by God on the cross, for cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. (Deuteronomy 21:23/Galatians 3:13) All those who considered Christ discredited by this death were IMMEDIATELY shown otherwise, for he “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4)
The resurrection was a declaration to the world and the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms that Christ is God’s beloved Son.
Now, being joined together with Christ in his death and resurrection, we too may follow the Prophet safely through the water and fire of God’s judgment. (Romans 6:5)
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
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