Day 2

Jesus’ Ministry Begins

from the Matthew reading plan


Matthew 3:1-17, Matthew 4:1-25, Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 4:1-6

For better or worse, I grew up watching “Sesame Street” as a child. I especially remember that instructional skit in which one of the characters would have four things set in front of him. Three of the items would be identical and one would be different. The song would then start:

One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong…

Before His earthly ministry started, Jesus came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist, the herald who proclaimed the coming Messiah, saying, “Prepare the way for Lord; make his paths straight!” (Matthew 3:3; Isaiah 40:30).

God had sent John to inaugurate the Messianic ministry by calling His people to repentance, representing their cleansing by baptism. People flocked to John and his ministry, turning back to God in repentance and faith. And so Jesus also came to John to be baptized. But why?

Throughout the New Testament we learn that Jesus “did not commit sin” (1 Peter 2:22) and was “holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). Why would the sinless Son of God come to John to receive baptism, a sign indicating the need to have sins washed away?

When Jesus stepped into the Jordan, He was stepping into the waters that had been symbolically polluted by the sin of the great line of those who had gone in before Him. Jesus submitted Himself to having that symbolically polluted water poured over Him. Geoff Thomas captures the scene so well:

“There is a great line of repentant sinners standing soberly and sorrowing on the bank of the Jordan waiting to go down into the waters… There’s a thief, a drunkard, an adulterer, a liar, a bully, a wife-beater, an idol-worshiper, a torturer, Jesus, a murderer, a forger, a troublemaker, a braggart, a terrorist, a blasphemer, an abuser of children… and hundreds more—every one a sinner, and there is Jesus—made in the likeness of sinful flesh—standing in line.”

How do we know Jesus was so very different from the others in that water?

Even John questioned the need for Jesus’ baptism, at first trying to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?’” But Jesus said, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:14-15).

So John baptized Him. Then the heavens opened up. The Holy Spirit descended on Him. And the Father Himself spoke over Jesus: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).

The Father’s affirmation would carry Jesus all the way to the cross where He would die for those who could not live without Him. Nailed to the tree and under the wrath of God, Jesus washed away the sins of His people through His bloody baptism on the cross (Luke 12:50).

Imagining Him there now, on the banks of the Jordan River, we must conclude that truly, He is the One who is most certainly not like the others. Yet He became like us in order to redeem us. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Written by Nick Batzig

Post Comments (7)

7 thoughts on "Jesus’ Ministry Begins"

  1. Ron Bertrand says:

    Everything changes, the rules change, we have the opportunity to be forgiven, to be rescued, to accept the savior. My Father in heaven loves me so much he sent his Son, not to just come but to pay for my sins.

  2. Lorenzo Wuysang says:

    This is the first time I’m doing a monthly devotional focus on one gospel and I am excited to learn and dwell in the Word. My prayer is for God to open my eyes and ears to be truly able to see and hear what he wants me to from these passages.

  3. David Cook says:

    When a lot of time is spent away from God; the absolute miracle of salvation becomes “watered” down. The act of getting back in shape spiritually is at least from my
    experience meant to bring a focus back to our lives in the hopes that particular challenges or situations improve.

    I’ve allowed the comfort of salvation hinder a thirst to truly pursue an intimate relationship with God. My prayer today is to ask forgiveness first and foremost. Trust in that and begin a clean slate and ready to move forward.

    God is truly amazing.

  4. Ezra Bailey says:

    I love that Jesus can among us and that it was planned from he beginning. God truly is amazing. He cleaned us all.

  5. Josh Kasselman says:

    It amazes me to think that God sent his son Jesus to die for me. The symbolism of Jesus emerging himself in sin so that he can carry the sin of the world to the cross is something I never noticed before. And that God was blessing the future ministry of of his son. Amazing.

  6. Anthony Caligaris says:

    To have Jesus baptized by John is another example of how Jesus never put Himself above us. He came down the mountain to save us, to teach us, and to show us the way. There was no ego to Jesus, he came purely as a servant. There is a powerful lesson in that Jesus was completely humble, but always respected through his actions. Let my actions speak for me, take my desire to speak my success away. It’s not mine regardless, it is through You. Grant me a stronger servant spirit, to all.

  7. Branson Baxter says:

    This is an interesting way of looking at the text about Jesus and John the Baptist. Jesus puts himself in symbolically polluted water. A perfect being and savior willing to submit himself and cast himself among the filth of sinners. How unworthy his followers must have felt to be in such a humble saviors presence. Thank you God for sending your humble son to die on the cross for all of our sins. Thank you Jesus for submitting yourself to the filth of this world with one goal in mind, to save us. Thank you Lord.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *