Three small words bring tears to the eyes of parents on Christmas morning: “Some assembly required.” (Borrowed that line from my friend; thanks, Bob!) If you have engaged in “some assembly” you have probably discovered there is a certain order in which everything must be done or it just won’t go together right. If you fasten the connectors on the axle before you have connected the crank, you have to take the whole deal apart and start over.
John the Baptist was baptizing people as an expression of their repentance from sin and Jesus showed up to be baptized. John was astonished and said, “No way… You should be baptizing me.” Here’s how Jesus replied:
But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15a)
Translation? This has to happen first, before I can begin the rest of my ministry, or the whole deal won’t work right. God made a plan and each piece of the plan must be accomplished in the right order.
Which raises this question: Why would the sinless Son of God need to be baptized as a symbol of repenting from sin? You know He had to come to earth as a human being in order to accomplish the plan. To leave His privileged position in Heaven and come to earth as a human was a big step down. But He did it to identify Himself with us, according to the Plan. He wasn’t born to royalty in a palace, but to a homeless, young couple who improvised a makeshift crib in a feed trough. Huge step down, to identify with the lowliest of us.
How do you feel in moments when you have openly acknowledged your own need to repent, to turn away from sin? Have you ever felt lower? Probably not. And it was to that place that Jesus descended, in the waters of John’s baptism, to identify with you, when you were at your lowest. As He explained, It had to be done this way, or the whole deal wouldn’t work right. “We must do this now to fulfill all righteousness.”
Jesus came all the way down, to rescue you.