Matthewby Mike Raiter
My son is a high school teacher. Recently his students told him that they like him because, ″Mr. Raiter, you don't yell at us.″ Many teachers yell, and with some high school children, it can be hard not to yell. Nate is firm and in control, but he does not yell. The Jesus we meet in this passage will not yell at us.
John now introduces King Jesus. As His inferior, John is reluctant to baptise Jesus (vv. 13-14). However, as we have seen, Jesus is the true Israel, and must identify with His people. Unlike them, He does not come confessing His sins, but He will obediently fulfil God's role for Him (v. 15). This means He stands with them in recognising their need for salvation, and He will soon die for them to achieve it.
By His baptism Jesus' ministry is launched, and God anoints Him with the Holy Spirit. It is striking that the Spirit comes in the form of a dove (v. 16). Not in the form of an eagle or a hawk, but in the shape of a creature that is a symbol of innocence, purity, weakness, poverty, and gentleness.
What a contrast! A man of such surpassing greatness that even the greatest born of women would consider it too exalted a task to untie His shoes, and yet gentleness and humility will be the hallmarks of His ministry.
Only twice does God speak in Matthew's gospel, here and at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-5), and both times He preaches the same message, ″This is my Son, whom I love″ (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). God is a one-sermon preacher, with one supreme message to the world: Look, listen, and love Jesus, my Son.
This strong but gentle King is a man we can entrust our life to. Yes, He will rebuke and admonish us, but He says, ″Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . . for I am gentle and humble in heart″ (Matthew 11:28-30). Just ask denying Peter (Matthew 26:69-75) or doubting Thomas (John 20:26-28). More than that, this is a man we must entrust our lives to. We are God's children, but only Jesus is the unique, eternal, beloved Son of God. Him alone we worship. Him alone we preach.
″Who is Jesus?″ What are the different answers people give to this question? How can we faithfully yet sensitively speak of Christ's uniqueness in a multi-faith country?
How should the fact that the Spirit comes to Jesus in the form of a dove inform and shape our ministry to the world and to the church?