Matthew 3:13-17 (Part 2)
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Jesus was participating in an act of repentance (metanoia in the greek). Both the Latin and Greek forms of this word denote a person who has not only changed their heart and mind, but then have a continuing action that emanates from that decision. Those who experienced John's baptism would turn away from a former way of life and turn toward a new one. Although Jesus was not turning away from a sinful life, he was turning away from his former life of 30 or more years and toward a new life of public ministry. Everything in His life was about to change from the work of his hands, to his daily rhythms, to his circle of relationships. In a matter of days he went from a life of obscurity to being a public figure. This is an example of the "fruit" of repentance that John references in the preceding passage (Matthew 3:8). By entering the Jordan River, Jesus demonstrates for us what authentic, fruit bearing repentance looks like.
Repentance is sometimes seen as an intense moment of remorse, but this does not fit the words or example of Jesus. It is not an overnight process. God's forgiveness may be immediate , but the declaration of repentance on our part is the first step in a long journey toward a new way of living. It is an initial decision followed by thousands of subsequent decisions.
What are you moving away from in your life so that God can bring you toward something new?
Lord, teach us that true repentance is not merely a few minutes of emotion, but a lifestyle that embraces the changes you desire for us. Draw us into a greater intimacy with you that we might become increasingly aware of the small decisions that mark the life of your disciples. Help us to bear the fruit of repentance.