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The Obedient Son #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
May 29, 2024 12:00 am

The Obedient Son #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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May 29, 2024 12:00 am

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Welcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in The Truth Pulpit. Our message this morning comes from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 3, and I invite you to turn there with me. And today you may hear some things that, especially if you haven't been at our church for very long, that may sound new to your ears.

That's okay. We should want to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We should want to learn new things and not simply hear the same things over and over again, but rather to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And that's what we endeavor to do today. And as we do that, we're going to see what the ground of our salvation is, what the righteousness is that we rely upon in order to enter into the presence of God. Last week, if you were with us, you'll remember that we celebrated the Lord's Table, and that's always a wonderful time at Truth Community Church. I know that the Lord has used it as our communion services at times to work deeply in the hearts of those that come to believe in Him, and so we're grateful for that. And we focused on the shed blood of Christ, how Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

And that is a fitting theme to remember at communion, to focus on His death and His shed blood. Today, we're focusing on the significance of His life that He lived leading up to His death, and you're going to be encouraged and more deeply established in Christ as a result of being here this morning. And so I'm very glad that the Lord brought each one of you here. I consider you to be a gift of God to our church here this morning, and I trust that God will use His Word in your life as a gift to you to expand your understanding if you are a Christian, if you are not a Christian, that the Lord would convict you of your sin, your lostness, and how desperately you need the righteousness of Jesus Christ in order to redeem you from your many, many sins. You have come expecting, I trust, the Lord comes to you through His Word now to present Himself in love and grace and mercy and kindness and patience to call you to Himself.

With those things in mind, let's look at Matthew chapter 3, beginning in verse 13. Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan, to John, to be baptized by Him. John would have prevented Him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me? But Jesus answered him, Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.

Then He consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him. And behold, a voice from heaven said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Now, this episode of the baptism of Jesus is a milestone in his life, and it is a milestone in Matthew's gospel.

And those two things go together. If you remember, we don't have time to review all of this and to read all of the Scripture that informs what I'm about to say. Matthew, by this point in his gospel, has covered the genealogy of Jesus Christ, and he has shown that Jesus Christ is in the ancestral lineage of King David and of Abraham. That's very significant, showing that Jesus is in the lineage of the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant, that He is the fulfillment of all of the promises of God. And after the genealogy, we read of the birth of Christ in the remainder of chapter 1 and in chapter 2, and we are exposed to something very, very critical in chapter 1 that I want to turn your attention to. In verse 23—actually, in verse 21 is where I really want to take your attention. As we're reading about this Christ, and the angel is speaking to Joseph, he's speaking of Mary and says that she will bear a son, Matthew chapter 1, verse 21. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Jesus will save His people from their sins. Now, look, that is like two great pillars, even though it's only one text.

It's like a great, magnificent entryway through which you go into a magnificent palace and you see the riches that are in all of the rooms. Everything that we read in what follows in the Gospel of Matthew is to help us understand the nature and the means by which Jesus Christ saves His people from their sins. The whole point of the Incarnation, the whole point of Christ's coming is that He would come to save His people from their sins, and all that He did in the course of His life, even in the days of obscurity before His public ministry, was all contributing to that mission of salvation that He was on. Now, in order for the people of the time to recognize Jesus, God sent a messenger beforehand, prophesied in the book of Isaiah chapter 40. This messenger's name was John the Baptist. Every one of the Gospels speak about him.

He's obviously of great importance. In Matthew's Gospel, the ministry of John had been introduced in the prior 12 verses of chapter 3. And, again, without looking at the text, what John the Baptist had been doing was he was calling sinners to repent, and he was preparing the way for the Christ who would follow him. And that had a very significant purpose, because the Spirit of God was abiding upon him, even so much so that John leapt in his mother's womb when the mother of our Lord spoke to Elizabeth, and John heard the greeting and knew that the Lord was there, and there was just this, there was this, even within the womb, this responsiveness to Christ. God had set John apart from his mother's womb to have this ministry, this purpose of fulfillment and of preparing the way for Christ.

It's remarkable to think about. What a wonderful, what a wonderfully unique place that John held in redemptive history, kind of standing as a bridge between the Old and the New Testaments. But John, as he went out and he preached, his message of repentance and his baptism of repentance attracted crowds.

Here's the point. He attracted crowds, and people were so captivated by his ministry that they started to wonder if he himself was the Christ. That's how great his power was, is how great the attention that was upon him. And if you want to think in terms of, you know, stage production as an illustration, the spotlight was shining brightly on John the Baptist in a way that had not been true for the prior 400 years, where there had been no revelation from God. And the spotlight in a dark world was shining on John as he preached and he ministered, as Scripture describes it.

It's really cool. And what John does, what the purpose of John's ministry is, and what he in effect does, is he takes, he puts his hands around that spotlight that's on him and he shifts it. He says, I'm not the star of this show.

There's one coming after me who's greater than me, so great that I'm not worthy to bow down and untie his sandal. He takes the spotlight and he shines it on the Lord Jesus Christ. God prepared him. God, everyone's looking on him, and then John says, it's not me, it's him, which is kind of the attitude of every true Christian. And so John had been calling sinners to repent, to bring forth fruit in their life. Great attention is brought on him so that he can pass the mantle, as it were, on to the only one who is worthy of it, the Lord Jesus Christ. So he's baptizing. And now, in the text that we have, here in Matthew chapter 3, John has a candidate for baptism that is unlike any other. This is a momentous occasion in the ministry of Christ for reasons that I will show you.

And I want to, I want to kind of structure this around two primary points here this morning, what we're going to look at. I want you to understand the crucial nature of Jesus' baptism, and then secondly, the crucial purpose of Jesus' baptism. The nature of his baptism, the purpose of his baptism. And so here in point number one, we look at the crucial nature of Jesus' baptism as we come to this text that I read just a few moments ago.

Let's enter into it. It's a dramatic, it's a dramatic text. Jesus, in verse 13, comes to John to be baptized by him there at the Jordan River. And immediately John recognizes that there's an incongruity in this moment. He hesitates to baptize Jesus. Look at verse 14. John would have prevented him, saying, I need to be baptized by you.

And do you come to me? Now look, the message of John the Baptist was a message of repentance from sin. Look up at verse 11, where he says this. Actually, go up to verse 8.

We'll see it twice. He speaks to the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He calls them a brood of vipers in verse 7. Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

You sinful, wicked, religious leaders. You need to repent and to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Because until now, your teaching and your so-called ministry has been nothing but a rattlesnake's fangs sunk into the flesh of people. He goes on, verse 11. He says, I baptize you with water for repentance. And so there's this emphasis of turning away from sin that is the primary focus and the message of his ministry and the purpose of his baptism is that people need to repent in order to prepare their souls for the coming of the kingdom of God. And so repentance, repentance while simultaneously pointing to one who is to come, verse 11. I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.

And he'll be the one who sifts the people of God. So it's a message of repentance. Now, Jesus shows up to John and says, in effect, by his presence he's saying, I am here to submit to this baptism for that signifies repentance from sins.

Here's the problem, beloved. Why does the true Messiah come for a baptism of repentance? Why is the perfectly righteous Son of God here to submit to an ordinance like that? At first look, when you realize who Christ is, this one who's mightier than John, this one who we just saw in Matthew chapter 1, verse 21, came to save his people from their sins, this one who is in the lineage of Abraham and David and who is the rightful heir to the throne of David as king of Israel, why is he here for a baptism that signifies repentance from sin?

This is a real problem, beloved. Jesus Christ was holy and undefiled, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Here's the point that you must grasp hold of as we consider the crucial nature of his baptism. Jesus Christ had no sins whatsoever of his own that needed repentance. He didn't need to repent. He had never sinned and he never would and he never could. And yet he insists on undergoing the baptism.

Look at verse 15 with me again. John would have prevented him. John says, why are you here?

This should be completely reversed. You should be baptizing me and you're saying I should baptize you? But Jesus answered him, verse 15, let it be so now for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he consented and John baptized him. And so something really magnificent and significant is going on here as shown by the incongruity of the moment, shows us the crucial nature of the baptism. There's something else that I want to point you out, and this is all still kind of by way of just getting familiar with the passage and what's happening, is that whatever's happening here is something of great Trinitarian significance because God the Father speaks publicly, audibly into this situation as we read in verse 17 where Matthew records a voice from heaven said, this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. That is the voice of God the Father looking down on this moment on earth and saying this is pleasing to me.

This is exactly what I want. And so God the Father makes himself known here. Of course you have the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, recognized by the Father.

I mean, we know it's God the Father because he's speaking about his Son, who has a son but the Father. So the Father, the Son is here, and even the Spirit of God, the third member of the ineffably blessed Godhead, we see in verse 16, he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. And so there's so much coming together in this one great moment. Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled in John the Baptist and his ministry. The entrance of Jesus into his public ministry is happening here. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are speaking.

There's something of great supernatural consequence here. You could never overestimate the significance of what we're considering here this morning by the grace of the Spirit. And so whatever is happening here in Matthew chapter 3, beloved, is something that is greatly, eternally significant in the redemptive plan of God. Now, before we consider our text in greater detail, and because I've made such a point of saying how significant this is, I want to show you from a couple of other passages to show you that Scripture itself points back to this and speaks to the great significance of the baptism of Christ. So turn to the book of Acts chapter 1 with me for just a moment. As we consider these things, we are gradually and slowly building up momentum for things that are going to be said later. There is an accumulating momentum, an accumulating significance and power that is coming upon us as we consider this theme from Scripture.

So I say that just to encourage you to stay with me even if you don't immediately see why this is so important as you're sitting there in this moment, stay with me because it's going to become very significant, as you will see, if you just stay with the flow of what Scripture has for us here today. So in Acts chapter 1, this is after the ascension. We're going to look at verses 21 and 22. After the ascension of Christ, the group of disciples known as the apostles say, we have a vacancy. Judas had betrayed Christ, he'd gone out and committed suicide and entered into perdition. Now they had a vacancy in the 12 and so they needed to fill it. The question is, who's going to fulfill it?

Well, there were some qualifications that needed to be in place. We read in verse 20 at the end there, let another take his office, and they applied that to Judas. The office that Judas held, Judas Iscariot, now needs to be filled by someone else as they enter into the fullness of apostolic ministry after the resurrection of Christ. And now what Peter says is that here's the qualifications, here's the kind of man that we're looking for. So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went out and among us.

We need someone who saw everything essential from the beginning. And what was the beginning? That they must have witnessed. Verse 22, beginning from the baptism of John.

Until the day when he was taken up from us. One of these men must become with us, a witness to his resurrection. To be an apostle, you had to not only be a witness to the resurrection of Christ, you needed to be a witness to the baptism that you had to be associated with it from that beginning. Now look over at Acts chapter 10 with me. For Peter is again speaking, describing now moving from that small circle of 120 Jews in the upper room before the fall of the Spirit in Acts chapter 1. I guess they were in the upper room in Acts chapter 2.

But that time frame where it's the Jews in focus. Now in Acts chapter 10 the ministry is expanding to the Gentiles. Peter is in front of a Gentile gathering to speak to the Lord about the Lord to them.

And he says in Acts chapter 10 verse 34, we're going to read a few verses here. So Peter opened his mouth and said, Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ, he is Lord of all. Notice that Peter's obviously talking about the nation of Israel. Israel did not somehow morph into the church and go away.

Peter recognizes the distinction as he's talking to Gentiles, the word he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ, he is Lord of all. You yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea. Beginning from Galilee, here it is after the baptism that John proclaimed, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did, both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear.

Here's the point, beloved. As Peter is preaching the gospel for the first time to the Gentiles, he includes the baptism of Jesus as significant in the account that he was responsible to give to them. When it came time to fill an apostolic office, they had to be a witness to the baptism of John. And so you have this crucial nature of the baptism to the apostolic office. It's referred to, the baptism, in the introduction of the gospel to the Gentiles, and then all the way through the ascension. And so the baptism and the ascension function as bookends to the public ministry of Jesus Christ. It's very crucial. This is the starting point of Christ publicly fulfilling that redemptive mission that Matthew alluded to in chapter 1 by which he would save his people from their sins.

So it's crucial in nature. Now, let's go to point number two here. The crucial purpose of Jesus' baptism. Jesus, go back to Matthew chapter 3. Back to Matthew chapter 3. Jesus explains the purpose of the baptism when John hesitates and asks him, why are you here? Lord, you know you have no sin. You know that I'm doing a baptism for repentance from sin.

What are you doing here? From John's perspective, he says, we've got to put a stop to this. But Jesus explains it in verse 15, and this is where we need to really zero our attention on. Jesus answered him, let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Somehow, this baptism of Jesus fulfills righteousness in a way that would not otherwise have been accomplished. It is fitting indicates that this occasion, Jesus says it's fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. That verb, it is fitting, indicates that this occasion is suitable to fulfill and achieve a goal that transcends the moment in the water itself.

It's fitting, it's suitable. This is a good thing, John, even if you don't fully grasp it right now. Then to fulfill all righteousness, to fulfill it.

Fulfill means to perform something completely, to fill it out, something that has to be completed, carried out, or accomplished. He says, John, what we are doing here is suitable to the goal of carrying out righteousness all the way to the end. And so, just to summarize here, because I don't want anybody to lose, to get lost in the development of the argument here, Jesus tells John it's suitable for him to baptize Christ. It's suitable for you to baptize me, John, because in this moment we have a crucial purpose to accomplish, to achieve. We have to carry out righteousness. Now, if you just stopped at the end of chapter 3, you would be understandably perplexed by what that could possibly mean. There's no further explanation that's made here. Jesus doesn't say how this baptism fulfills righteousness.

He just says that it does. And if you read the different commentators that have written on this, you can find all kinds of speculations about what Jesus meant, and we're not going to waste our time pursuing that. But you and I should be able to agree on one thing together at this point in the message. We should be able to agree on one thing clearly, certainly, and then build from there. Here's what we can agree on. So very important.

So incredibly, incredibly important, beloved. And there are theology professors who contradict and miss this and have done great harm to the Church of Christ by straying on this very point or ignoring this point that I'm about to make to you. Jesus Christ did not need to be baptized to further his own righteousness. Jesus Christ was already perfect. He was already sinless. There was nothing that that baptism did that made Christ more righteous after he went under the water than before he was, before he entered into it. Christ did not need to be baptized for his own sake, all right? He did not need to be baptized in order to fulfill righteousness, his own righteousness, or to somehow repent from his own sins. He didn't need it for himself because he was already righteous and had nothing from which to repent.

That should be clear and obvious to you. And if you have that in mind, then you can start to ask and explore other questions. Now, we get some help on the meaning from Matthew 5, verse 17, if you'll turn there with me. We're in the middle of, on Tuesdays, we've been teaching through the Sermon on the Mount, and we're actually right at verse 17, where we'll pick it up when we get back to the Sermon on the Mount down the road. In Matthew chapter 5, verse 17, Jesus says something further about his purpose. His purpose is that the big overarching thing of his incarnation, the whole purpose of it is that he would save his people from his sins. And we interpret everything in light of that. In his baptism, he says it's necessary for us to do this, to fulfill our righteousness.

But there's no other explanation. Well, you keep on reading in the Gospel of Matthew. You know, one of the main points of biblical interpretation is that you understand a text in its context.

Not every text in the immediate context has clarifying perspective so that you can know for sure what's being said. And so if that's the case, then you keep reading, and you consider what the rest of the book in which the verse appears says to help you understand that which initially may be cloudy in your understanding. Jesus came to save his people from his sins. He was baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness. Now, here in Matthew chapter 5, verse 17, we read this. Jesus said, Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. He said, and you see that word fulfill. He came, chapter 3, verse 15, we need to do this baptism to fulfill all righteousness. Now we see a lexical link that says, I haven't come to abolish the law or the prophets.

I've come to fulfill them. So Jesus somehow came to fulfill the law and the prophets with precision. He will fulfill the smallest letter and stroke.

Look at verse 18. There won't be one letter of the Hebrew alphabet disjointed out of place by the time Jesus is done. Everything will stand upright and be completely fulfilled. Verse 18, Jesus said, For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not a neota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.

If you were to put this in colloquial English language, we'd say every I will be dotted, every T will be crossed. There won't be any, not even the slightest adjustment or mistake. Jesus Christ came to do what the Old Testament had in mind. And it couldn't be any other way because the law cannot be abolished. Jesus did not come to set aside the law of Moses. Jesus did not come to set aside the Old Testament. He came to fulfill it. He came to accomplish everything that the Old Testament had in mind.

But again, beloved, he did not need to do this personally for himself. He is eternal God. He is eternally righteous. He is the author of the law. He is the keeper par excellence of the law.

So he didn't need it personally for himself. And so, beloved, for whom is he doing this? For whom did Jesus submit to the baptism of John? For whom did Jesus keep the law?

That's the question. Look at another text from Matthew's Gospel. Go to Matthew chapter 20 with me.

And if you can just kind of click four different texts from Matthew in your mind, this will really help. Matthew chapter 1, verse 21, came to save his people from their sins. Matthew chapter 3, verse 15, fulfilling our righteousness. Matthew 5, 17, fulfill the law and the prophets, not abolish them but to fulfill them completely. And now Matthew chapter 20, verse 28.

We'll actually start in verse 25. Matthew chapter 20, verse 25. Jesus called them to himself and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you, but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave. Jesus says, Greatness in the kingdom is shown by serving others. And whoever would be first among you must be your slave, verse 27, verse 28 now, even as the son of man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus says, I'm here in order to serve. And by the time he says this, deep into his public ministry, you are to be remembering what came beforehand. He came to save his people from their sins.

He came to obey the law perfectly. And as a result of this, beloved, here's what we see in verse 28. He's saying, I came on a mission of redemption.

We've almost come full circle to chapter one, verse 21. He came to save his people from their sins. Verse 28, he says, I came to give my life as a ransom for many.

That perfect, righteous life would be offered up in order to save his people from their sins. And now, beloved, as part of that redemptive mission for which he was sent to save his people from their sins, we see as part of that mission, he rendered perfect obedience to the law of God in everything that he did. He didn't need to do it for himself.

And why did he do it? He did it because he was serving. And he was serving his people. He rendered obedience to the law not to achieve his own righteousness, but he did it as our representative. As for his people, he obeyed the law. His people were required to keep the law of God with perfection. Matthew 5, 48, you shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. And everyone since Adam has been a complete utter failure at keeping the law of God. And yet that's what we are required to offer to God if we are to go into heaven.

We can't do that on our own. And so what Christ is doing in his baptism is woven together with the entire redemptive mission that he came to fulfill the law as a service for his people. He obeys the law in order to benefit and to serve others. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit. And here's Don again with some closing thoughts. Well, my friend, before we go after today's broadcast, I just want to invite you to look me up on Facebook, Don Green on Facebook.

I often make original posts. I make comments about ministry and other matters of biblical importance there that do not make their way into this broadcast. And so if you are on Facebook, I invite you to join me. Look for Don Green and join us on Facebook for another way to connect with our ministry. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-29 05:05:08 / 2024-05-29 05:17:27 / 12

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