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.