Matt. 3:13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.
The text tells us Jesus came from Galilee to the area where John was baptizing. Jesus had grown up in Nazareth, which was in Galilee. So Jesus was leaving the area he had grown up in to go to the area that John had grown up in, in order to be baptized by John.
Let’s take a look at this on a map. Jesus grew up in Nazareth, which was in Galilee. The area of Galilee was just to the left/west of the Sea of Galilee. John the Baptist grew up in Judea. The Ministry of John the Baptist took place in the Jordan River Valley. The Jordan River formed the border between Perea and Samaria. John the Baptist was doing his ministry in the area down towards the Dead Sea. When Jesus came from Galilee to John the Baptist, He went from the area near the Sea of Galilee down to the area just north of the Dead Sea.
It’s about 65 miles from the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee down to the northern tip of the Dead Sea. Humans can typically walk about 30 miles per day. So the journey from Galilee down to the Dead Sea would have been approximately a two or three day journey, perhaps a four day journey.
Matt. 3:14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”
Matt. 3:15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.
So Jesus came to be baptized by John, but John recognized that Jesus was greater than he so he rightly asked why he was baptizing Jesus when really it should have been Jesus baptizing John. Jesus’ answer was that they had to fulfill all righteousness. I’m not 100% sure what all Jesus meant by that. I think part of what was going on here is that Jesus wanted to set a good example. Jesus knew that in the future He was going to ask His followers to be baptized. Jesus was not going to ask them to do something He wasn’t willing to do, so He went to be baptized, to set an example for us.
Matt. 3:16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,
Matt. 3:17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
It tells us the heavens were opened and a dove came down and lighted on Jesus. Imagine you were John, or perhaps some other person standing there watching this and you see the heavens open. I don’t know exactly what that looked like. I would assume everyone there would have recognized something miraculous was taking place. That was a very clear sign to them that Jesus was different than any other person.
Likewise, we read that a voice came out of heaven. Again, imagine you are John or one of the other spectators and you hear this voice out of heaven. Hearing a voice out of heaven is not normal. It’s not something that happens every day. This clearly would have been a miracle. So once again, this was a sign to them, an indication, that Jesus was not just any ordinary man.
We know that Jesus was God. He came to earth in human form. But Jesus did not just come and claim to be God. He proved that He is God. He proved it by performing miracles, healing people, and He proved it by rising from the dead. His baptism was one of the early events where miracles were performed in order to prove that Jesus was not just an ordinary man. Rather, Jesus was different. Jesus was God Himself.
That’s how those of us living in the 21st century can be certain that God exists. God came to earth. He performed miracles. He proved that He is God by performing miracles. He did not do these miracles in private, where nobody saw them. In many cases miracles were performed in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. There were many eyewitnesses to the fact that Jesus performed miracles and proved the fact that He was not merely human, but that He indeed was divine, is divine, that He is God Himself.
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“Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
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Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)