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Matthew 3:16-17

Behold My Servant

16 And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.


Where in the annals of history could we find a more compelling scene than in the verses chosen for today's devotion? Here, in the presence of a crowd of repentant believers, are the man who came in the spirit of Elijah, John the Baptist; Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; God the Father, who spoke audibly from the heavens; and the Holy Spirit, who descended upon the Son within sight of everyone present. The greatest cast in all of creation is assembled for one of the most dramatic events in history, and it is all told in just two verses of scripture.

The purpose of this passage is clearly to mark Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah for whom the Jews had been waiting. There are, however other questions of doctrine answered in this passage. How should we baptize? We can answer by asking how was Jesus Baptized? We see that He came up out of the water, indicating that He was immersed. Why should anyone be baptized today? Again, we see that Jesus' baptism pleased God. Should we not assume that, if we follow His example, our actions would please God? Yet, these important issues are not where our focus must be.

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and the heavens were immediately opened. There are many who believe that only Jesus saw the opening of the heavens, but that would leave this entire scene open to question by the very Jews whom Matthew was trying to convince. But the crowds must have seen it, and no one could question that it actually happened. The opening of the heavens was an announcement that this man, Jesus, would open heaven to all who would receive His free gift of salvation. What other motive could Matthew have had for including it?

The Spirit of God descended on Jesus, and we know that at least John the Baptist also saw the Spirit (John 1:32-34). Descending, not in the form of a dove, but in the manner of a dove, the Holy Spirit alighted on Jesus and filled Him with Godly presence and power. (Not that He lacked any divine attributes. He was fully God. This was an encouragement to Him and another part of God's announcement to the people.) The dove was the only fowl that could be sacrificed, and Jesus was God's sacrifice for man's sake. In the OT, the dove was the sacrifice of the poor. A symbol of peace, the dove was appropriately sent to the Prince of Peace, and perhaps reminded the Jews of the dove that Noah sent out from the ark. It did not return and symbolized the new beginning.

The Comforter, as Jesus would later call Him, came on this occasion to gently guide, encourage, and comfort the Son of God. Immediately after this scene, He would lead the Lord into the wilderness to face a severe temptation that would prepare Him for His ministry.

"This is my Son," announced the voice from heaven, "in whom I am well pleased." Surely, we could not be asked to believe that only Jesus heard these words! Why then didn't God say, "You are my Son..."? It is clear that the entire gathering heard these words. Later, the Jews invented a variety of stories about the voice from heaven in an effort to minimize the impact of this event. Why would they do that, if no one had heard the words to begin with?

Isaiah 42:1 prophesied about the Son pf God, saying, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold: mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles." He came not to be served but to be a servant. He served both God and man in His life and in death. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again." (John 10:17) And He obediently reported to His Father, "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." (John 17:4) Is it any wonder that the Father was well pleased?

Before The Throne:

Take a moment to meditate and to picture the scene from these verses in your mind. Praise God for giving us this awesome scene upon which we can build our faith. Thank Him for sending Jesus to be a servant who would take away your sins. Always pray for opportunities to tell His story to others.

For Further Study:

(v.16)
** Jesus. Mr 1:10; ** lo. Ezek 1:1; Luke 3:21; Acts 7:56; ** and he. Isa 11:2; Isa 42:1; Isa 59:21; Isa 61:1; Luke 3:22; John 1:31-34; John 3:34; Col 1:18-19;

(v.17) ** lo. John 5:37; John 12:28-30; Rev 14:2; ** This. Matt 12:18; Matt 17:5; Ps 2:7; Isa 42:1, 21; Mark 1:11; Mark 9:7; Luke 3:22; Luke 9:35; Eph 1:6; Col 1:13; 2Pet 1:17;

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