Jesus’ Baptism

Q. What is the meaning of Mt 3:15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. If one of the reasons is for God the Father to properly identify Jesus’ righteous godhood, then why “us”, meaning John the Baptist and Jesus Himself?

A. The purpose of Jesus’ baptism was not to identify Jesus as God – the post-baptism appearance of the Spirit (v 16) and the voice of the Father (v 17) did that – but for Jesus to completely identify Himself with sinful man. Jesus had no sin to repent of. John needed Jesus’ Spirit-and-fire baptism, not Jesus his water-baptism of repentance, so he hesitated.

Jesus understood John’s hesitation, and corrected him by pointing out the appropriateness of this action. The AMP and the EXB bring out the meaning more fully:
AMP Amplified Bible but Jesus replied to him, Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for [both of] us to fulfill all righteousness [that is, to perform completely whatever is right]. Then he permitted Him.
• EXB Expanded Bible Jesus answered, “Let it be this way for [happen] now. We should do all things that are God’s will [or in this way we will do what God requires;  For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness].” So John agreed to baptize Jesus [gave in; consented; allowed it].

The “us” does not refer to both Jesus and John being of the same nature, but to each of them to do what is right, what God requires – for Jesus to identify with man, and for John to be Jesus’ forerunner to prepare His ways:
Lk 1:17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
• Lk 1:76-77 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation]By the forgiveness of their sins,

The “us” is not about being, but doing. Each has a purpose to fulfill according to God’s will.

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Did Jesus break Jewish Laws? (3 of 5)

Matthew 17 24-27 c

(Continued from yesterday)

b) Another said by voluntarily paying the tax, Jesus taught humility to His disciples.

In interpreting the Bible, there is often a primarily meaning as intended by the author, and other meanings of secondary importance. I do not think teaching humility is the primary meaning here. The context is not about humility.

c) Another said He demonstrated kenosis to the tax collectors.

A basic rule is that we must always discover what it means to the original hearers, before we see what it means to us the current readers. I doubt very much the tax collectors recognized Jesus as God Incarnate emptying (kenosis) and humbling Himself in paying the tax. I don’t think kenosis is the point at all.

d) Yet most commentators linked this to giving Caesar what belonged to Caesar and said He demonstrated to His disciples on submission to the authority because the bible said His act was to avoid offending the tax collectors, but then why did He challenge and break other Jewish laws?

Rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s is a separate teaching. There it was giving to a pagan emperor. Here it is a contribution to God. The only thing common was giving. Submission to authority is taught by the Bible, but I don’t think that’s the point here, as the tribute money was for God, not an earthly authority.

Mt 17:27 says, “so that we do not offend them”. Jesus was never afraid of confronting the Jewish authorities. Why did He make a concession here? First, note that Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not break it. He broke the tradition of the elders, to teach them the spirit of God’s Laws:

Mt 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
• Mt 15:2-3, 6b Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? … And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.
• Mt 7:5, 8-9, 13 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?” … Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. … thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

The two drachma tax was part of the Law, not a tradition of men; therefore Jesus willingly complied. Or it may be that He was a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Mt 11:19; Lk 7:34) and knew that they were only doing their job. So just as He did not need to be baptized by John but did anyway, He paid the tax voluntarily to “fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15).

(To be continued)