How did people respond to the preaching of John the Baptist? As crowds joined him on the edge of the Jordan River, John called them to demonstrate their repentance publicly by being baptized. As previously noted, this was not Christian baptism, but rather an outward symbolic act portraying a change of heart. In Acts we see repentance PRECEDING baptism, whereas in John’s ministry repentance EQUALLED baptism.
To John’s great amazement, Jesus showed up in the line of baptismal candidates. “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. (Luke 3:21)” Why? John didn’t fully understand the willingness of the Saviour to identify fully with sinners, so he attempted to stop Him. But Jesus insisted that John should proceed, in fulfillment of God’s righteousness. Here is a “HE who knew no sin becoming sin for us” moment (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus followed this act of full identification with sinners with prayer. The words of God the Son to His Father are not recorded and we should not speculate. But as the prayer was being offered, the Spirit of God descended on the Son of God in bodily form. God the Father declared His open endorsement and affirmation of His Son with the words, “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.”
What a launch to public ministry! What an act of consecration by the Son, what a public affirmation by the Father, what a clear “anointing for service” by the Spirit. Here, at the age of 30, as Jesus is about to move into a very public ministry, all of these events occur. New ministry challenges call for new consecration! No leader should blindly assume God’s approval is a given. Earnest times of dedication, prayer and a whole-hearted commitment to the will of God will surely be affirmed by the Holy Spirit.
Well may leaders (and followers) prayerfully sing, “Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, by the power of grace divine. Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope and my will be lost in Thine!” My personal prayer for 2015 is exactly that…a losing of my will, a surrender of my plans to God. I trust you desire the same thing.