Jesus, the Son of God, came to John the Baptist to be baptized. Does that seem strange to you? It certainly seemed strange to John, who tried to prevent Him from doing it, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” (Matt. 3:13-14).
You know how Jesus responded. This desire of Jesus did not make sense to John, but it certainly did to Jesus. Our Lord said, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness(3:15). Righteousness means “the character or quality of being right or just … whatever has been appointed by God to be acknowledged and obeyed by man” (Vine). There were divine expectations, and Jesus was fully intent on fulfilling all that God expected and required.
Jesus would later teach that John’s baptism was from heaven (Matt. 21:25, 32) and that submitting to it was the will of God (Luke 7:29-30). Even though John, and many others to this day, thought it strange that Jesus would be baptized, such was God’s will, and Jesus submitted fully to His Father’s expectations (cf. John 1:33-34).
Think about this as it relates in application to us. There is the lesson on the essentiality of baptism. Both John and Jesus taught that the purpose of baptism was the remission of sins (Mark 1:4; 16:16). While Jesus had no need for forgiveness, this was a requirement of obedience that John was preaching, a message he had received from heaven. What if Jesus had not been baptized? Would the Pharisees have had anything to say? Would folks today discount its essentiality if “Jesus didn’t do it”?
There is the lesson on obeying the will of God, even when it seems strange to others. Jesus was on His way to do what was right, and John tried to prevent Him. Do you have people in your life who try to prevent you from doing right? Maybe they even have “good intentions” (like John did). Nevertheless, what was true for Jesus at His baptism is true for us every day—“it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness!” When others try to stand in your way from doing what is right, and when others “think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you” (1 Pet. 4:4), follow the example of Jesus. Do right, even when others would prevent you!
Jesus taught us, “It’s always right to do right!”