VBS – Encounter at the River – Day 2

MATTHEW 3:1-17

As you flip through dozens of snapshots, all evidence of amazing moments and fond memories, do you ever find one that causes you to stop and gaze in amazement? Then, you begin to envision all the fabulous ways to display it! Today’s Scripture snapshot is one that is worth enlarging, mounting, and hanging! In this one frozen-in-time moment we see the obedience of the Son, the blessing of the Spirit, and the declaration of the Father—God in three persons—Blessed Trinity.

Matthew included the details of Jesus’ baptism in his Gospel as did Mark and Luke. All three acknowledge that John the baptizer was the one Isaiah had prophesied about who would herald the coming Messiah (Isaiah 40:3). You don’t have to dig very deep in the New Testament to know for certain that John the baptizer was sent as the forerunner of Jesus. Jesus Himself called John the greatest of all prophets (Matthew 11:9-13).

People from Jerusalem, all around Judea, and the vicinity of the Jordan came to the wilderness where John had been preaching. His message convicted those who heard and many confessed their sins. Baptism was symbolic, even then, of changing one’s mind and going a new direction.

Many people feel puzzled about why Jesus came to be baptized. John was preaching a message of repentance symbolized by the rite of baptism. Since Jesus was “the one who did not know sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) why would He place Himself in such an act of submission? In one respect, this action on Jesus’ part gave validity to John’s message and ministry. But, the prevailing reason was Jesus was being obedient to the Father. This simple act was symbolic of an entire life that was obedient—obedient even unto death (Philippians 2:8). No step of God’s plan could be skipped if Jesus was to fulfill all He came to do.

John, understandably, resisted at first. But Jesus explained that they must do this to “fulfill all righteousness.” (v. 15) So, John complied. What happened next is that picture-perfect moment—the obedience of the Son, the presence of the Spirit, and the affirmation of the Father. For John the Baptist, this visible presence of the Spirit was confirmation of a promise he had received that Jesus was indeed the Son of God (John 1:32-34).
Twice in the Book of Matthew, God spoke from heaven declaring that Jesus is His Son. We read about it here and later at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:5). Many commentaries explain that God’s declaration combines phrases from Psalms and Isaiah. The first portion echoes Psalm 2:7, which was used at the coronation of Israel’s kings. The second portion alludes to Isaiah 42:1, declaring Jesus to be the Servant promised. Jesus is the King of kings and the Suffering Servant who became our Savior.

Who heard the voice of God? The Scripture is unclear. Many believe those present heard. Either way, Matthew was confident enough to describe it here and John the Baptist described the event later in the Gospel of John (John 1:32-34). This amazing encounter was the official inauguration of the ministry phase of Jesus’ life. Jesus stepped out of the waters of the Jordan on a journey that would end in three short years at the cross.

1.Read John 1:34 (today’s bonus verse). What were some encounters that helped John declare this with certainty?
2.What are experiences that have helped you know for certain that Jesus is the Son of God?
3.Take a few moments to pray for kids who will attend VBS. Pray that they will come to truly know that Jesus is God’s Son and that He loves them.

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