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Theology > Jesus > Baptism and Temptations > Messiah Revealed  


Through John’s baptism of Jesus the Anointed One of God is revealed—the Messiah is identified, with the baptism being the public declaration and manifestation of the One Israel had long anticipated. John is precise in his affirmation:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ I did not know Him; but that He would be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”

And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (Jo. 1:29-34).

Note that John’s declaration of Jesus as the Lamb of God is subsequent to John’s baptism of Him. John admits that he “did not know Him,” that is, he did not know that the person he knew as Jesus was indeed the predicted Messiah; but he did know, and plainly confesses it, that the Messiah “would be revealed to Israel,” therefore, he came “baptizing with water.”

Additionally, John affirms that the One who sent him to baptize with water had informed him that the One “upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him” that this One is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and who is the Son of God.

And then Jesus comes to John at the Jordan and requests to be baptize, and following the baptism John says that he “saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.”  Therefore, John knew that Jesus was the Messiah.

Through His baptism Jesus is not only revealed as the Messiah but He is also identified with His people and their sin. And it is this identification that portents the Cross. He is called: “the Lamb of God,” the One who “takes away the sin of the world” (Jo. 1:29). His baptism, therefore, is the announcement of who He is and what His mission will be.

The prediction of Messiah was repeated in the Old Testament. Following is just a sample of the verses that support the Messianic expectation:

Therefore the Lord [Adonai] himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isa. 7:14; “young woman” or “young girl,” while perhaps lexically acceptable, neither transl. bring out the force of the Heb. word; besides, the fact of a pregnant virgin is the sign);

In that day the Branch of YHWH shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel (Isa. 4:2);

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord [Adonai] of hosts will do this (Isa. 9:6-7);

Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up His voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for His law (Isa. 42:1-4);

And behold, One like the Son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed (Dan. 7:13-14);

For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of YHWH from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn way anymore (Micah 4:2-3);

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little among the thousands of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me One who is to be Ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2; see: Matt. 2:1-6);

Behold, your King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zech. 9:9).

From the very beginning these predictions had been identified with the nationalistic expectation of the people. They longed for a kingdom, a kingdom that would restore the glory of the Davidic Kingdom. In other words, the people desired and expected a visible and historical manifestation of the kingdom when the Messiah appeared. Strong was the belief that God would be mighty for His chosen people and that One would come from Him who would deliver and establish the people.

Incorrectly the people identified the Messiah with political realities and not with spiritual redemption. They thought in terms of the ethnic nation and its destiny, not in terms of a universal kingdom that would be born of the Spirit. The people were blinded by their own pride and selfish expectation. The baptism was the public declaration that such thinking must be adjusted.

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