Matthew 3:15 MEANING

Matthew 3:15
(15) Suffer it to be so now.--The "now" is emphatic, at the present time, in contrast with what was to follow. Hereafter, John should be the receiver and not the giver, but as yet there was a fitness in each retaining his position (the words "it becometh us" seem to refer to both, not to the speaker only). The word and the thought are the same as those of Hebrews 2:10. Even He had to pass through the normal stages of growth, and so an outward ordinance was even for Him the appointed way to the fulness of spiritual power. He was in His place receiving that rite. John was doing his proper work in administering it.

Verse 15. - Suffer it to be so now; suffer it now (Revised Version); "suffer me now" (Revised Version margin); ἄφες ἄρτι, only here (apparently) in the New Testament quite absolutely, but Matthew 7:4 slightly favours the Revised Version margin. Now; at this special season (ἄρτι); in contrast to the more permanent relation which shall be recognized later. Our Lord thus slightly removes the trial to John's faith, which a mere refusal might have aggravated. Observe the implied consciousness of his Messiah-ship, even before the baptism. Several of the Fathers (vide Meyer) infer from these words that John was afterwards baptized by Jesus; but this is to completely miss the point of the expression. For thus. Not exactly "by this baptism," but" by the spirit of submission in us both, which in this case will issue in my baptism." It becometh (τρέπον ἐστὶν). Not a matter of absolute necessity (δεῖ, Matthew 16:21; Matthew 26:54), nor of absolute duty (ὀφείλω, John 13:14), but of moral fitness (Hebrews 2:10). It befits us, in our respective characters, to perform this symbolical act. Compare Melchizedek and Abraham; the representative of the older blesses the representative of the coming age (Luke 16:16). Us; thee and me. To fulfil; here only with "righteousness" (cf. Matthew 5:17). All righteousness (πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην). Not the whole circle of righteousness (πᾶσαν τὴν δικαιοσύνην), but every part of righteous ness, as each is presented to us (similarly, Acts 13:10; cf. also δικαιοσύναι in Ecclus. 44:10; Tobit 2:14, where, although Neubauer and Fuller explain it as "alms." this is improbable after the preceding ἐλεημοσύναι), and that not merely every part of the righteousness included under the Mosaic, Law (cf. Alford, "requirements of the Law' and especially Lowe. 'Pesach Fragm.,' p. 100: 1879), but of that wider righteousness of which that was itself only a part and a type. "Let me be baptized by thee now," our Lord says to John, "for it is fitting for us, in this spirit of submission, to fill up every part of righteousness." Our Lord thus pleads for the absolute submission of John and himself to every portion of righteousness as it may be proposed to them by God to perform; his words thus somewhat resembling those to St. Peter, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me" (John 13:8). Thy duty is to baptize, mine to be baptized. It has generally been thought that in this verse our Lord implies that his baptism was to constitute his own formal recognition and acceptance of his distinctly Messianic duties - an act which involved the complete leaving of his past life and the giving himself up to a new and public life (cf. Weiss, 'Life,' 1:322). But have we any evidence that our Lord came to the baptism with this self-consciousness? May he not very well have known that he was to be the Messiah, and yet not have known that his official life was to begin now? May he not have come to the baptism merely as an individual, feeling the deepest interest in this consecration to the cause of the kingdom, notwithstanding the unique position in which he knew himself to stand with regard to that kingdom? But his voluntary consecration of himself for whatever he might be guided to, was the opportunity taken by the Father for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, which had as its immediate consequence the retirement into the wilderness and the decision there come to. May not, in other words, our Lord's descent into Jordan have been, not the first act of his public life, but the last act of his private life - the former then being the withdrawal into the wilderness, in order there to have uninterrupted communion with his Father, and to meet in his official character his great adversary (cf. especially Edersheim, 'Life,' 1:279, etc.)?

3:13-17 Christ's gracious condescensions are so surprising, that even the strongest believers at first can hardly believe them; so deep and mysterious, that even those who know his mind well, are apt to start objections against the will of Christ. And those who have much of the Spirit of God while here, see that they need to apply to Christ for more. Christ does not deny that John had need to be baptized of him, yet declares he will now be baptized of John. Christ is now in a state of humiliation. Our Lord Jesus looked upon it as well becoming him to fulfil all righteousness, to own every Divine institution, and to show his readiness to comply with all God's righteous precepts. In and through Christ, the heavens are opened to the children of men. This descent of the Spirit upon Christ, showed that he was endued with his sacred influences without measure. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. At Christ's baptism there was a manifestation of the three Persons in the sacred Trinity. The Father confirming the Son to be Mediator; the Son solemnly entering upon the work; the Holy Spirit descending on him, to be through his mediation communicated to his people. In Him our spiritual sacrifices are acceptable, for He is the altar that sanctifies every gift, 1Pe 2:5. Out of Christ, God is a consuming fire, but in Christ, a reconciled Father. This is the sum of the gospel, which we must by faith cheerfully embrace.And Jesus answering, said unto him,.... This is an Hebrew way of speaking, often used in the Old Testament, and answers to see Job 3:1. He replied to John, who had made use of very forbidding words, after this manner,

suffer it to be so now; let me have my request; do not go on to object, but comply with my desire; let it be done now, immediately, directly, at this present time; do not put me off with any excuse; it is a proper season for it, even "now", since the time is not yet come that I am to baptize with the Holy Ghost; and besides, thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. It became John to administer the ordinance of baptism to Christ, as he was his forerunner, and the only administrator of it, and that he might fulfil the ministry which he had received; and as it became Christ to fulfil all righteousness, moral and ceremonial, and baptism being a part of his Father's will, which he came to do, it became him to fulfil this also. And since it became Christ, it cannot be unbecoming us to submit to this ordinance; and since he looked upon it as a part of righteousness to be fulfilled by him, it ought to be attended to by all those who would be accounted followers of him. Christ having strongly urged the conveniency and equity of the administration of baptism to him, which showed his eager desire after it, and the lowliness of his mind; and John being convinced, and overcome by the force of his reasoning, agrees to his baptism;

then he suffered him, i.e. to be baptized in water by him, as he had requested, and accordingly did administer it to him.

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