Matthew 3:13-17 The Baptism of Jesus


The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John to be baptized by him in the Jordan River. 14 But John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” 15 So Jesus replied to him, “Let it happen now, for it is right for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John yielded to him. 16 After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight.”

Matthew henry:


  • Jesus did not go to Jerusalem but went all the way out to the wilderness to be baptized by John and we should be willing to go far rather than come short of communion with God.

    • “church is too far”, “too uncomfortable wearing a mask”, “afraid I’ll get sick”, “afraid of the government”

    • consider the underground churches of China. They are willing to sacrifice all to have communion with God and with each other

  • being baptized by John showed great humility that He who knew no sin would submit to the baptism of repentance.

    • how often do we try to defend our character? perhaps we can show humility by not defending ourselves but instead let people think what they will for God is our judge


  • John shows humility in that he can’t fathom how he would be worthy of baptizing the Lord. Peter (John 13:6, 8) and Mary (Luke 1:43) showed a similar response of humility in their respective situations. John showed humility even though he had obtained a great name and was universally respected. 

  • Note that John thinks it is necessary that he is baptized even though he was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb (Luke 1:15). He acknowledges that he needed to be baptized with that baptism of repentance. He needed cleansing even though he was the greatest that ever was born of woman. Yet, being born of a woman he was polluted as everyone from Adam is. The purest souls are most sensible of their own remaining impurity and seek most earnestly for spiritual washing. Ministers who preach to others and baptize others must preach to themselves as well (1 Tim 4:16).

    • there are ministries we may partake in that tempt us to believe we are more righteous than others who don’t partake in the same ministries. This has been referred to as ministry idolatry. It’s easy for our flesh to trick us into thinking that we are somehow earning the free gift of grace that Christ offers us by participating in that ministry. We must always be on our guard to remain humble. (1 Peter 5:8, Proverbs 11:2, James 4:6, 2 Corinthians 10:17-18, )


  • Christ accepted his humility but not his refusal. It is fitting that Christ should take his own method though we do not understand it nor can give a reason for it.

  • no pretence of humility must make us decline our duty

  • Christ fulfilled all righteousness by living the perfect life and dying on the cross for our sins. He became our righteousness.(2 Cor 5:21)


  • others being baptized stayed to confess their sins (Mat 3:6) but Christ having no sins to confess went up immediately out of the water. It could be the bank of the river in that he only had his head or face washed (John 13:9) for there is no mention of taking off or putting on his clothes.

  • Heaven is opened to receive Him for two reasons: 

    • 1) to encourage him to enter his work. Heaven is open to receive Him once his work is done.

    • 2) to encourage us to receive him and submit to him. Sin shut up heaven and put a stop to all friendly exchange between God and Man but now Christ has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers like when the curtain in the temple was torn in two (Mat 27:51). “We have receipts of mercy from God and we make returns of duty to God and all by Jesus Christ who is the ladder that had its foot on earth and its top in heaven by whom alone it is that we have any comfortable correspondence with God or any hope of getting to heaven at last.” [1].

  • He saw the Spirit of God descended and lighted on him

    • in Gen 1:2 the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters; hovered as a bird upon the nest. Here, in the beginning of this new world, Christ as God didn’t need to receive the Holy Spirit but it was foretold that the Spirit of the Lord should rest upon him (Isa 11:2, Isa 61:1). Here the Holy Spirit did this:

      • 1) Jesus was to be a prophet and prophets always spoke by the Spirit of God who came upon them.

      • 2) Jesus was to be the Head of the church and by Him the Holy Spirit was to be given to all believers in his gifts, graces, and comforts. Christ received gifts for men that he might give gifts to men.

  • He descended on him like a dove

    • we don’t know if it was an actual dove or something like a dove. The Spirit of Christ is a dove-like spirit not like a silly dove without heart (Hos 7:11) but like an innocent dove without gall (Mat 10:16). 

      • The eyes of Christ and the eyes of the Church are compared to doves (Cant 5:12, Cant 1:15, Cant 4:1). 

      • The dove mourns (Isa 38:14). 

      • Christ often wept and penitent souls are compared to doves of the valleys (Ezekiel 7:16).

      • The dove was the only bird offered in sacrifice (Lev 1:14)

      • Christ by the Spirit offered himself without blemish to God (Heb 9:14).

      • The tidings of the end of Noah’s flood were brought by a dove with an olive-leaf in her mouth (Gen 8:11).

    • It says that God has goodwill towards men (Luke 2:14) and that His thoughts are of good and not evil (Jer 29:11).

    • God is in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and that is a joyful message which comes to us on the wings of a dove (Psalm 55:4-8, Psalm 68:13)