Matthew 3:16
As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Him.
Christ's BaptismJ. Bennett, D. D., H. Budd, M. A., Ralph Erskine.Matthew 3:16
Divine Testimony to the Tri-Unity of the GodheadJ. G. Angley, M. A.Matthew 3:16
The Arithmetic of HeavenAnon., Bishop Hall., Hacket., Hacket.Matthew 3:16
The Dove-Spirit on ChristR. Tuck Matthew 3:16
This Great SightMatthew 3:16
Trinity SundayF. Close, M. A.Matthew 3:16
Baptism of JesusMarcus Dods Matthew 3:13-17
The Baptism of JesusW.F. Adeney Matthew 3:13-17
The Baptism of Jesus by the Holy GhostJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 3:16, 17
The Heavenly Attestation of the Sonship of JesusP.C. Barker Matthew 3:16, 17

The singular and thrilling event recorded in these verses is recorded also by St. Mark (Mark 1:9-11)and by St. Luke (Luke 3:21, 22) in an equally full manner, while it is distinctly alluded to by St. John (John 1:32, 33). It is remarkable that, though nothing is said either way, we are left to conclude that the vision was confined to the two only - Jesus himself and John the Baptist. From that time John, who had personally long known Jesus, knew him for certain as the Messiah; and not only heralded the Christ, but could point to him as the Christ (John 1:29, 30). Notice -

I. THE CRISIS AT WHICH THIS GLORIOUS ATTESTATION OCCURRED. The first profound act of public, spontaneous self-humiliation is alighted upon by the visit of a supernatural glorification. Immediately the act of baptism was over, the heavens opened, the Dove sped down, the voice of the Majesty himself of all the universe uttered itself forth, and glory was poured on Jesus.


1. The "heavens opened." We are certainly entitled by Scripture warrant, to say the least, in order to help our weaker understanding and thought, to consider heaven as a place, that place being the abode of God. These helps to human imaginings of the Unknown will not discredit our faith in the Divine omnipresence and in the fact that he is perfect Spirit; but they are needful to our present limitations of apprehension of the dim, vast, uncomprehended.

2. The Spirit descended, and in the form of a dove. No doubt it was now that an enormous accession of the Spirit was made to the human nature of Jesus Christ, And the "bodily form" of the dove was to betoken alike the soft flight and that tenderest gentleness of the Spirit, and the peace and love of him who was now more fully replenished with the Spirit.

3. A voice from heaven speaks. It is here said "a" voice. But the words spoken prove that it was none less than the voice of Heaven, the voice of the majesty of the Father, of the Glory - God himself!

(1) Great is the impression of voice.

(2) Great may be the absolute charm of voice.

(3) Great beside all else is the fixed, distinct certainty of voice, as e.g. compared with vision or with imagination.

God speaks in all creation with ten thousand voices, it is true. But when he speaks with that voice which utters words, the ear hears as in its own right. The words uttered by the voice of God assert

(a) the Sonship of Jesus;

(b) that he is the object of the Father's unqualified complacence; and

(c) because flint might be the complacence of feeling chiefly, by the analogy of human relationship, the voice asserts the Father's perfect approbation as well.

III. THE GREAT OBJECT OF THIS ATTESTATION. It appears to have been vouchsafed for the absolute warranting of the faith of John the Baptist. The simplicity, and what should seem in some light the narrowness, of this object invest it to a very large extent with its greatness.

1. What a testimony of condescending graciousness to that one man! He is to live for Christ, to work for Christ, to die for Christ. And to furnish him with exactly the enough satisfaction of evidence, faith, growing into knowledge, all the grandest apparatus of Heaven is brought into use!

2. What a testimony of real consideration to the world! Is a great trust committed to earthly vessels? Is it a trust of critical and tremendous responsibility? Are men, not angels, the ministers of truth, of life, of salvation to their fellow-men, in the name of Christ? Then alike it is mercy for those who are to be blessed, as for those who are to bless, that into these latter, though they should stand but one by one, and follow one another in narrowest line of succession, the whole force of absolute conviction should be thrown by Heaven's and God's own most approved methods. On this occasion we cannot doubt Jesus himself was refreshed with the vision of open heaven, with the alighting on him of the holy Dove, with the voice of the Father, and the words that voice spoke. But, in that John was the witness, and presumably the only witness hereof, the significance can be but one; and it is plain and most striking. - B.

Heavens were opened unto Him.
1. Great in the Object.

2. Great in the Person.

3. Great in the Mysteries.


1. Jesus of .Nazareth.

2. The Holy Ghost miraculously exhibited.

3. The Holy Father.


1. Here was salvation embodied in Jesus Christ.

2. The Holy Ghost falls on Him.

3. The Holy Father's solemn attestation of the sufficiency of Christ and His salvation.


1. We view Him as our Federal Head and Representative.

2. In this capacity He received the Holy Ghost.

3. In this character the Father delighted in Him, and also in His people.

(1)What a practical view of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

(2)Have we a personal interest in this great work?

(3)Let the power of these truths be seen in our lives.

(F. Close, M. A.)

I. Demonstrate from Scripture the Tri-unity of the Godhead.

II. Prove Christ's perfect union in the Godhead, as the true ground of Christian faith.

III. How GREAT A BLESSING THIS GLORIOUS DOCTRINE IS FOR ALL GOD'S PEOPLE. There may be mines of precious wealth, of minerals, gold, silver, jewels, in a domain only partially known; so with this doctrine. God the Father planned the way of redemption. God the Son willingly came to accomplish our salvation. And God the Spirit guides us into all truth. The whole Trinity joins in man's salvation.

1. How great the condescension of Jehovah thus to reveal the nature and perfections of mercy.

2. How much all revelation testifies of God the Father's delight in His beloved Son.

3. How God is well pleased in the soul's salvation by Christ.

(J. G. Angley, M. A.)

I. Christ's SUBMISSION to the ordinance of baptism.

1. Jesus humbly waits upon the Baptist. The fortitude with which to meet publicity.

2. He is privately discovered to John.

3. The Saviour meekly persists in His obedient resolution. How lovely this conflict of humility!

4. Jesus at last receives the sign from His forerunner.

II. The HONOURS Christ received at His baptism.

1. The opening of the heavens.

2. The descent of the Spirit followed.

3. The proclamation of the Father closed the scene of wonders.

(J. Bennett, D. D.)


1. The dignity of His Person.

2. The endearedness of the Son.

II. THE FATHER'S COMPLACENCY IN THE SON. Complacency takes place.

1. In Creation: "All things were made by Him."

2. In redemption: "He hath made us accepted in the beloved."

3. The Father is well pleased with Christ in His incarnation and mediation.

4. He is well pleased with Him in all His people.

(H. Budd, M. A.)Here we have(1) the rising of the morning star, John the Baptist;(2) The more glorious rising and shining of the Sun of Righteousness Himself;(3) A messenger from heaven. The Spirit of Christ is a dove-like Spirit. The dove was the fowl offered in sacrifice; so Christ offered Himself without spot unto God.(4) A voice from heaven. As the Holy Ghost manifests Himself in the likeness of a dove, so God the Father in a voice. This voice speaks God's favour to Christ.

1. Expresses the relation He stands in to Him.

2. Expresses the affection the Father hath to Him. Observe God's favour to us Is Him. He is My beloved Son, IN whom I am well pleased. Consider what God is out of Christ, and what God is IN Christ.

I. WHAT GOD IS OUT OF CHRIST to the sinner.

(1)An angry God;

(2)a threatening God;

(3)a dishonoured God;

(4)a distant God.


(1)A reconciled God;

(2)a promising God;

(3)a glorified God;

(4)a near God.

(Ralph Erskine.)

A gentleman, passing a church with Daniel Webster, asked him, "How can you reconcile the doctrine of the Trinity with reason?" The statesman replied by asking, "Do you understand the arithmetic of heaven?" The application is evident.

(Anon.)The heavens are never shut while either of the sacraments is duly administered and received; neither do the heavens ever thus open without the descent of the Holy Ghost.

(Bishop Hall.)

1. The Person that did hear witness.

2. The manner how He testified to the honour of His Son.

3. The authority of that voice from heaven.

4. The Person to whom the witness is borne.

5. What is witnessed of Him in respect of Himself.

6. What is witnessed of Him in respect of our consolation, we the beloved in Him.

(Hacket.)As the Father sent His voice from heaven to earth, let our lips be full of prayers, that we may send our voice from earth to heaven.


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