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Immersion at Jordan

November 26, 2016 - Bible Series, Genesis

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. – Mark 1:9-13

There is an astonishing sequence of events that occurred when John in the Jordan River baptized Christ.

Here we see Christ’s baptism in the Jordan by full immersion. In the Matthew 3:14- 15 version, John the Baptist suggests that Christ should baptize him and not the other way around. Christ replies that it is essential for it to be done by John in order to fulfill all righteousness.

Most times, when we read this, we skim over it by merely noting that it is important and that Christ is leading by example. True as this may be, it is important to question why immersion in water is used and not something else. We often talk about baptism as death to sin and rising to righteousness, but have we wondered where the principle came from?

I believe it comes from the Genesis 1 story and from Noah’s flood where the earth was completely submerged under water. I believe the principle of baptism itself is evidence that Genesis 1:9 was not talking about the creation of dry land, but of the restoration of the land after judgment and death following a rebellion. I believe that Christ had to be baptized as a requirement to building the new temple: our body. He had not sinned, so He did not require forgiveness in the true sense of the word.

However, He was wearing a human body, made in the image and likeness of Adam. This body needed to be judged, put to death, and then restored just as the earth was judged, put to death, and restored before God could walk in it again (Genesis 3:10). That is why He needed to fulfill all righteousness (a condition acceptable to God) by baptism (see also John 10:17).

Note also that this baptism was a complete immersion, symbolizing death. I am for complete immersion during baptism. Sprinkling symbolizes the washing of the unclean (Hebrews 9:13), and that does not mean the same thing as death. This reinforces the whole concept of being born again. We die (not washed) and we are reborn into a new life. First we must die to self and then be reborn (John 3:3). Then the washing of our steps come later as seen in John 3:5. The early apostles encouraged all converts to get baptized at the earliest opportunity (Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12, and Acts 8:36-37). I believe baptism is essential if we want to see the Spirit of God fill us and fully anoint us for ministry as He did Christ.

In this passage, we see the immersion in water and a stepping forth from under the waters. We see the Spirit of God hovering (moving) over Christ (and the waters) and then we hear God’s voice, just like in Genesis 1, indicating His pleasure. He saw the work that was done, that it was good (compare with Genesis 1). Is it coincidental that God was heard saying, “Thou art my beloved son in whom I am well pleased?” God saw the light that it was good (see also Isaiah 42:1) and note what the Spirit did after. He immediately drove Christ into the wilderness where the devil tempted Him and the angels ministered to Him.

The Bible was careful to note that there were two opposing forces fighting over Him. We see a minority third of the angels working to make Him fall while the majority two thirds of the angels were upholding and supporting Him. We see war on earth between the forces of good and evil, between light and darkness: and God divided the light from the darkness (Genesis 1:4). Again, this reinforces our previous discussion on Genesis 1. When God separated the light from darkness, it did not just refer to the physical but also the spiritual as shown here in Mark 1. The kingdom of God truly suffers violence and the violent take it by force (Matthew 11:12). Let us press on. Let us run by God’s rules that we may overcome in life and receive a crown of glory in eternity.

We have seen how God made the commitment to restore His creation and opted to begin with His people Israel. After 400 years of a closed heaven, the New Testament begins with judgment on unbelief. After judging Zacharias, the Bible was careful to note that the next thing God did was to send the angel Gabriel to Nazareth (Luke 1:26) to proclaim that a virgin shall give birth and light will come into the world. Thirdly, we see Christ baptized by full immersion in water and led into the wilderness where a battle took place between God’s forces and the devil’s.

The fourth supernatural encounter was at Cana in Galilee:

Jesus saith unto them, fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew. – John 2:7-9

The earthen pots used for serving drinks were completely filled to the brim with water. When we consider that there were no faucets or taps available in those days, we realize that the water pots must be completely immersed into a larger holding tank in order to fill it to the brim. The pots must have been completely under water at some point and no part of it would remain dry. The earthen pot is first completely covered in and filled with water before it emerges.

More impressive, however, is that the water (often symbolizing death) is turned into wine (often symbolizing life). So again, we see the message of restoration written all over the ministry of Christ. He does not create anew, but restores and revives that which is dead. He did not come to recreate, but to seek and save that which was lost. Indeed, we need His revival today more than ever before. We need Him to touch every spiritually dead member of His church and cause life to spring forth in our midst—to turn our water into wine yet again.

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