Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
I. THE PERSON WHOSE VOICE IT WAS IS GOD THE FATHER; for He saith, "Thou art My beloved Son." Every testimony receives validity and authority from the testator, therefore this must needs be sound and good. God had given testimony to Christ by many famous men, even all the prophets, and now lately by John Baptist, who was greater than a prophet, that Christ was greater than he; yea, more, had given testimony of Him by a multitude of heavenly angels (Luke 1:30 and Luke 1:13). But not content with all this, He gives from heaven His own testimony of Him.
1. To strike us with reverence in receiving this testimony, which hath this privilege above other parts of Scripture, that it was uttered by God's own mouth, not by men or angels.
2. To confirm us in the truth of the testimony, proceeding from Him who is prima veritas, truth itself (not only true) in His essence, and much more in His words and works, who cannot be deceived, nor deceive us.
3. To show the necessity of believing this testimony, being the first and only principle in Christian religion, without which foundation laid can be no religion nor salvation, as we see in the Jews and Turks. That we might more firmly believe in the Son of God for life, God's own mouth testifieth so honourably of Him.
4. That such a glorious commendation of this testimony might stir up our best attention and affections in the unfolding of it, we have here the word of a King which was never stained, and that not uttered by any herald or a lord chancellor, but from His own mouth, which carrieth more weight with it. If God speak, woe to him that hears not.
II. THE PLACE WHENCE — FROM HEAVEN. For these reasons:
1. For more authority to the person of Christ, whom God from heaven doth honour. And if God thus honour Him, how ought we to honour Him? (2 Peter 1:17.) He received of God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, "This is My beloved Son"; which was verified not only in the time of His Transfiguration, but here also.
2. Because the testimony contains the sum of the whole gospel, to declare that the doctrine of the gospel, which Christ delivered to the world, was from heaven, because God from heaven so testifieth it to be. Wherein it differs from the doctrine of the Law, which, although God renewed from heaven in the tables of stone, yet was it written in the heart of man by nature. So was not the gospel. But as after the Fall it was immediately delivered by God to Adam in the promise, so here by the same voice from heaven confirmed to be Divine and heavenly.
3. In respect of us, that we should more carefully attend to the testimony itself proceeding from the excellent glory, and that from the mouth of the God of glory sitting in His chair of estate, seeing the word of a King in that place is more regarded. The contempt of the Law given upon Mount Sinai, in the hand of angels, was required at their hands; how shall they then escape that despise Him that speaketh from heaven? (Hebrews 2:2, 3.) The Law being transgressed, the gospel from heaven moderateth and pardoneth a man; but the gospel from heaven being despised, what can plead for him?
4. To show the extent of the gospel, that it is to be preached, and binds to the faith of it all the people under heaven. And herein it was not to be inferior to the Law, which God would have acknowledged His own by uttering it from heaven, and that not before He had sent Moses down, lest it should have been thought to be His, although it was so loud and piercing, as it could not possibly be but Divine, not human.
III. THE MANNER OF THE TESTIMONY — BY AN AUDIBLE AND SENSIBLE VOICE. HOW the Father uttereth this voice it is needless to inquire, seeing we know that He who made the tongue can either speak without a tongue or by secret inspiration and revelation, as to Isaiah (2 Kings 20:4). or frame a tongue and organs of voice at His pleasure, to utter and make known His will and good pleasure to His creatures, or speak by creatures, as angels in human shape, or other creatures — sensible, as Balaam's ass; or insensible, as the bush of fire. It is much more material to inquire into the end and use of it, which was to make the Son of God known unto the world, that the faith of men might be fixed on Him for salvation.
1. Hence, note, in that the Lord from heaven teacheth by voice His wonderful care, that will not suffer us to want any means to help us in the knowledge of the means of salvation. He had taught them and us before, by the sense of sight, seeing the heavens opened, and the Spirit visibly descending; and now He teacheth the ear by a voice, for He knows our dulness, security, slow ness of heart to believe, and applies Himself every way to help us. He setteth out His glory by His works and creatures; He addeth His Word confirmed by many powerful miracles; to his audible Word He hath annexed His visible Word, the sacraments; He hath set up a constant ministry in His Church, and every way fitted it to the edification of His people, as so He may now say, What could I do more for thee, O Israel? Is God thus careful of our profiting every way? Then how damnable and excuseless shall the carelessness of the most be in the matter of their salvation I In which regard it had been good for many a man that God had never made His will known to him, that he never had heard the Word, or received the sacraments, for all but tend to his deeper condemnation, because of his neglect and formal use. When our Saviour said of Judas, "It had been good for him he had never been born," did not He in effect say the same, It bad been good for him he had never been a disciple of Christ, never had heard Christ, or preached Christ, because the more excellent means he had, the greater was his sin and judgment. Again, hereby God cleareth His righteous judgment in the just damnation of the wicked and unbelievers. O Israel, thy destruction is of thyself. Say not, What can I remedy it, if God will not save me? Nay, what can God do more than He hath done? He hath given thee strong and excellent means, and preached the gospel from heaven by His own mouth, and sent it to all nations under heaven in their own language in an audible and intelligible voice. If thou wilt now wilfully refuse the means, thy blood be upon thy own head; that which will die, let it die. Thou art in the sea of thy sins, ready to be drowned, good help is offered, but thou refusest it, and must die in thy sin. Thy case is that of Jerusalem: "How often would I have gathered thee, and thou wouldst not!"
2. Note, that it is God's pleasure that we should be taught the matter of salvation by voice, and attend to that. Here was a visible opening of the heavens, a glorious presence of the Spirit in the shape of a dove resting on Christ; but when the Lord will have Christ published and proclaimed the Messiah, this must be done by voice.Thou heardest a voice, but sawest no image, therefore take heed to thyself, and corrupt not thyself by any image (Deuteronomy 4:12, 14).
1. Herein His mercy hath appointed a familiar and fit instruction, meet for our weakness, not coming to His Church in His own Majesty.
2. Herein He advanced our nature, teaching us great mysteries by such as ourselves, sanctifying the tongues of men, and not angels.
3. Herein He magnifies His power, who by so weak means worketh salvation. Earthen vessels are used, that the power may be seen to be of God (2 Corinthians 4:7). The voice of men by God's power conquers the world.
4. Hereby He tries our obedience, whether we will yield to a weak voice, whereas He might force us by power. Reasons: If God look on us in our. selves, and in the common mass, we are so covered over with sin, as He must needs pronounce of us as once He did of mankind, "It repenteth Me that I have made man." He must needs bring the curse of the Law on our necks. But looking on us through Christ, He changeth His voice, that as when we behold a thing through a red, or green, or coloured glass, everything looks as the colour of the glass. So God beholding us through Christ, we receive the dye and tincture of His blood and obedience, and so are justified and accounted innocent and pure. And thus, as it is said of the Church (Ezekiel 16:14),we recover our former beauty, which is made perfect through His beauty.
(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,