February 4, 2018
Today we begin a new series called “I am Jesus”. We are going to be taking a look at three different things that Jesus did to save us. It is my prayer that we grow closer to Jesus and who he is before we travel with him to the cross which begins in the next series. But today we begin this series by looking at Jesus and how he identifies with us.
Have you ever been in a situation where you see someone you know, but that person is not supposed to be in that place that you are? It isn’t the usual place you’d see that person? If you’ve ever been in that situation, you probably asked the person this question, “What are you doing here?”
Maybe you remember asking your parents that when they showed up at a party you were at and you were completely embarrassed. “What are you doing here?!” Maybe you went to visit family and some of your relatives weren’t expecting to see you and they asked, “What are you doing here?” Maybe it was at work. Someone you aren’t expecting to see shows up and you’d never expect them to be there. Maybe you asked your son or daughter that as you walk into the school office. There they sat with a few other students who were also in trouble. You know what happened because you already received the phone call explaining what happened. But you want to hear it from your child. So you ask, “What are you doing here?”
That’s what Anne asked me a couple of weeks ago. I was over by her school, so I figured I’d stop by and say hello. She looked up from her desk when I walked in and did kind of a double take and smiled and said, “What are you doing here?!” She was not expecting to see me at all.
I’m willing to bet that all of us have asked that question at some point and have been asked that question at some point. But I want you to consider one more scenario. Imagine for a second that you just died. That is something that we are all going to experience. You’re standing at the gates of heaven, and someone asks you, “What are you doing here?” How would you respond?
What are you doing here? That’s essentially the question that John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, asked Jesus one day. John was that prophet who went before the Messiah, the promised one of God. His job was to prepare people’s hearts for the coming Savior. So there John was out in the dessert with groups and groups of people coming out to see him. His message was simple, “Repent. The Savior is coming.” So the people would come, they’d confess their sins to John, and then he’d baptize them in the Jordan River to announce to them their sins were forgiven. It was while John was baptizing all these people, that he saw someone he wasn’t expecting.
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Picture the scene here. John is in the wilderness hanging out by the Jordan River. People from all over were coming to be baptized by him. In fact, from other parts of Scripture you get the picture that John had quite the line of people lined up to be baptized. One after the next came forward, confessed their sins, and then John baptized them announcing to them that their sins were forgiven. Then the next person would step up and repeat the process. John comes up from the water to see who is next and he is completely shocked. There is Jesus. “What are you doing here Jesus?”
Being baptized with sinners is the last place we’d expect to see Jesus.
Now up until this point, Jesus had not been preaching and teaching. He hadn’t been doing miracles. He lived a quiet life. A perfect life. But a quiet life. Nobody in the crowd knew that Jesus was the Messiah yet. His public ministry hadn’t started. Now if you were planning Jesus’ ministry. Wouldn’t you think this would be a fantastic time to announce that he is the messiah. Like a politician announcing he’s running for office, wouldn’t this be a great time to do that? There’s a bunch of people around. John has been preparing people’s hearts! Walk out on the water Jesus and make the announcement.
John knew this. He knew that Jesus was perfect and didn’t need forgiveness of sins. So John says, “You don’t need to be baptized by me, I need to be baptized by you! What are you doing here?! But notice how Jesus responds.
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
Jesus was baptized with sinners for
Jesus wasn’t there to make an announcement. He was there to fulfill all righteousness. But what does that mean? Baptism is the announcement of forgiveness. It is all grace. So Jesus wasn’t being baptized because he had to do it to fulfill God’s law. It wasn’t something that God commanded him to do. If that were the case, baptism would no longer be the announcement of forgiveness. Instead it would be something that he’d have to do or else. When something is a “have to” its law. But baptism is all about God’s love and forgiveness. Baptism is all about God’s grace as he washes away our sins. It’s the announcement of good news. It is gospel! So it can’t be that Jesus had to do this to live a perfect life.
Rather, we find our answer when we remember what Jesus had to do to save us from our sins: in other words, he had to fulfill all righteousness. To fulfill all righteousness Jesus had to do two things. 1) he had to live perfectly. We call this his active obedience. His active obedience is the fact that he fought all temptation and lived perfectly for you. 2) He had to take on your sin. He had to claim your sin as his own. This we call his passive obedience. He passively received the sins of the world as his own that he might pay for them. Jesus wasn’t there to make some big announcement. He was there to take on the sins of the world.
We sang all about this in our opening song. “He became sin who knew no sin.” The apostle Paul stated this same fact in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We read this as part of our Scripture reading from Isaiah 53. “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
As Jesus stood at the bank of that river that day and he looked into the water, he didn’t see fish. He didn’t see seaweed. Instead, he saw among the water all of the sins that had been washed in that river. He saw all the sins that had been committed since Adam and Eve, he saw all the sins that would ever be committed and he said, “I claim them all. Those sins are my sins, not theirs. I confess them as my own.”
As you sit here this morning, what sins are weighing you down? What words have you said, thoughts that you’ve had, or actions that you’ve done are causing you guilt? Lying? Sexual sins? Bad language? Parenting fails? Hatred in your heart? Worry? Lust? Discontent? Loving money or possessions more than God? Judgmental thoughts? Being rude to someone? Having a lack of love in your heart for others? We’d all have different sins that we’d confess. But one thing is for sure we all have sin to confess. And if we can’t think of anything specific, we confess that we are by nature sinful. Just being alive means we are sinful human beings who have sinned against God. And so we come this morning and lay those sins before God and we say, “These are mine. I confess them. I’m sorry for them.” And we drop them on the ground with our head hung low knowing that we deserve God’s punishment.
Just then, Jesus walks up. He picks up all of those sins you just confessed. He looks down and says, “These are mine. I’m responsible for these. Not you.” In his baptism, Jesus identified with you. He made your burden, his burden. He made your sins his sins. He was baptized not for his own sins, but ours that were placed on him. In his baptism, he stands with his arm around you saying, “I am one of you for you.”
And that’s what he was doing there. He was there to fulfill all righteousness by claiming our sin and being baptized because of it. He was there to identify with you and bear the sins of the world. But there was someone else who showed up too.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
God accepted Jesus as the Savior for sinners.
As Jesus came up out of the waters, we get a unique look at the trinity. We see God, though he is one, show up in three distinct persons. Jesus is there, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove onto Jesus and God spoke from heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased.” What was God doing there? He was there to identify Jesus as that sin-bearer, as the one who was going to take on our sins, and he accepted him as the one who would do this saving work.
Do you realize the importance of this? Over the years many people have claimed to be the Messiah, but only one had God accept him as the Messiah. There was only one person that God said, “I accept you as the sin-bearer. That’s because there has only been on person who could bear the sin of the world: Jesus.
God didn’t want us to miss this. And so like a giant arrow pointing at Jesus, he declared from heaven that this was his Son. He declared it so the people who were standing there would hear it. It was recorded and written down so that you and I would read it and see how God pointed that arrow toward Jesus so that we may know who our sin bearer is. Jesus, the one who identified with us. The one who was baptized with sinners for sinners.
It is through this Son of God that God has unconditional love for us. Why? God and sin can’t be in the same room. God is perfect and holy. But through Jesus God has unconditional love for us. Because this Son of God fulfilled all righteousness on our behalf. He took those sins from us. In God’s eyes we are sinless because Jesus, our sin-bearer removed our sins from us.
So here’s your take home point.
Jesus identified with us here so that we can identify with him there.
Why does all this matter? What’s the big deal? Because Jesus identified as a sinner taking on our sin, we get to identify as a holy one. And that’s important because all of us will one day die. We don’t know when but it will happen. But one thing is for sure. When we get to those gates in heaven and if someone were to ask us what we are doing there, we’ll know the exact answer. “Jesus bore my sins for me and paid the price to save me. He identified as a sinner so that I can identify as perfect.”
Do you still have sins that you’re too embarrassed to confess? The ones that you’re too embarrassed to even say in your head let alone out loud? Confess them to Jesus. Be comforted knowing that Jesus willingly bore those sins for you. You’re innocent. You’re forgiven.
Are you trying to deal with your sin on your own? Trying to make up for past mistakes? Overcompensating with good works hoping that it balances out your bad ones? Here’s the truth: morality never covers up guilt. Only forgiveness does. And only forgiveness gets us into heaven. So let your Savior pick up your sins and in turn give you righteousness.
This is Jesus. The one who identified with us so that we can identify with him. He lived like one of us. Identified like us that he may take our sins on himself that we might identify with his righteousness. Our guilty conscience is stilled, our fears are calmed, and the gates of heaven are open to us.
- What one thing from the sermon stood out to you?
- In order for our sins to be forgiven, we need to rely on Jesus to take our sin from us. In general, what factors make it difficult to rely on someone? Do any of those factors affect the way you rely on Jesus? Why or why not?
- God clearly identified Jesus as our sin-bearer and pointed to him. Scripture is clear that Jesus is the Savior of the world, yet why do so many people miss this great truth? What are some practical ways we can remind ourselves and others of this comforting truth?
- Can you think of some lopsided trades that have been made in history? Compare and contrast that trade with Jesus’ trade with us.
- Morality never covers up guilt, only forgiveness does. What makes morality so appealing to you?
- Why should a Christian frequently remind himself or herself about Jesus’ baptism and their own baptism? (Matthew 3:15,, Romans 6:4, Galatians 3:26-27)
- What is one thing we can pray for you about?