Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
1. He would hereby honour the ministry of man, in that He submits Himself unto it, and seeketh to it with much pains and labour.
2. As He was baptized, not by an angel or prince, but by a homely man that lived like an hermit in an austere manner of life for diet and clothing; so must not we account baser of the sacraments for the meanness of the man, if a lawful minister, seeing Christ refused not the sacrament at John's hands; neither must we from the meanest minister, seeing the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John.
3. Christ was content to wash in a common water, in the flood Jordan; He feared no infection from it, though Naaman the leper were washed there; though the Pharisees and hypocrites washed there: yet He takes no exception, contracts no uncleanness; so the wickedness of another communicant doth not prejudice him that is rightly prepared, though he communicate with him in the sacrament, yet not in his sin. Although He undertook not the sacrament as a sacrament of regeneration, or as a symbol of new life, yet He did —
(1) As it was a sacrament of Christian society (1 Corinthians 12:13), for as by it the faithful are set into His body, so would He by it be set into the body of the saints, and take on Him the common mark and privilege of His members; even as we see kings and princes, by whom all hold their freedom, will sometimes be made free, and so receive a public testimony of association from their people; and lo, here our Prince in the colours of a common soldier.
(2) As baptism is a symbol of affliction, so He would undertake it; so (Mark 10:38) Christ calls His cross and death by the name of baptism.
(3) Christ would be baptized, not to wash Himself, but us; not to put off sin as we, but to put on our sin, that so our sin in Him might be washed away, that He might sanctify this sacrament. Again, this is for our instruction, to note the excellency and dignity of this sacrament, and what esteem we ought to have it in; the Lord comes to the servant a tedious journey to seek it; yet many of us, when it is brought to us, turn our backs upon it. What price set they upon it who flee forth of the Church when this sacrament is to be administered? Shall Christ that needed it not, come to it, and shall we that need it run from it? This I will add to what I have elsewhere largely delivered, that whosoever do not present themselves with due reverence and meditation, but run out carelessly and profanely when baptism is administered, they be far from Christ's example, and little comfort can they have of their baptism, but may well fear, lest those mysteries and benefits offered and sealed to a member of the congregation belong not to them; for if they did they would own them, and not run contemptuously from them; as good never baptized, as never meditate on it. But, were thyself to take no good by the sacrament, in calling to mind thine own covenant made in baptism, with the fruit in thyself, yet good order requires thy presence.
1. Because the ordinance belongs not only to the infants' parents and sureties, but to the whole congregation, as the entering of a free man into a corporation is by the whole.
2. God looks it should be graced, and not scorned by turning thy back upon it. Were it not a most irreverent contempt to run out from the Word? and is it not also to run from the seal? especially the blessed Trinity being met to such a purpose, to seal such benefits to a member of that congregation?
3. Thy presence is requisite to help the infant by prayer, to join with the congregation in prayer and in praise for the ingrafting of a member into Christ's body. But what law or ordinance was there for baptism, to which Christ must be subjected?It was decreed by the whole Trinity.
1. That Christ should be initiated by this ceremony, wherein also He must manifest Himself the Author of all purity and cleanness.
2. John had preached it, and showed the necessity of it by Divine authority.
3. He would not only subject Himself to His Father's ordination, but also for our sakes, the virtue of whose baptism depends upon His, as also give us help by His example, and therefore would Himself do that which He commanded others to do.
4. Christ as Mediator, and in our stead, was to be made our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30); three ways:(1) In being made an offering for us, by which He was to abolish our sin and curse, and by His most perfect obedience satisfy the whole law for us.
(2) By applying that righteousness purchased by His blood, which else we could never have had benefit by.
(3) By appointing and sanctifying means and instruments for that application, called the ministry of the Spirit, whereof one branch is the laver of water in the Word. And thus, as in our stead, He stood in the general, bound by the will and ordinance of God, in Himself to sanctify baptism for us.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,