“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John [the Baptist], to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented” (Matthew 3:13-15).
It is no mistake that Jesus’ first appearance on the scene as an adult in Matthew’s gospel is a profound demonstration of his humility. The immortal creator of the universe submits to his Father’s plan by being baptized by a mortal man. John, in his human perspective, grasped how backward this encounter was. He could not reconcile his own sinfulness with Christ’s perfection. Stained hands were to baptize the unstained, perfect Messiah? Surely not! But Jesus understood that he was not submitting to a man, but to the will of his Father.
This event is the first of many crucial moments that Matthew records in which Jesus willing submitted to his Father. Among these are: his temptation in the wilderness (4:1-11); teaching and healing throngs of people even as he was weary (ch. 8); dealing with constant scrutiny and criticism of the religious leaders (9:3); the murder of his friend by an ungodly ruler (ch. 14); his miraculous transfiguration (ch. 17); his journey to Jerusalem with full knowledge that he would be crucified there (chs. 20 & 21), and ultimately his crucifixion (ch. 27).
Jesus models true submission to the Father. How often do I struggle with submitting to the Lord’s will and His principles? How much of my discontentment in this life is rooted in an unwillingness to submit to His ways?
We so often ask God to help us know his will. “Lord, please reveal your path and guide me,” we say. But a prayer for guidance is devoid of any meaning if we are not ready to fully and enthusiastically submit our will to His. If we attempt to retain any control, we are not fully submitting to him. In essence, we are saying to God, “I know better what I need than you do.”
Lord, help us to submit all areas of our lives to you. If we don’t know how to submit, you have perfectly modeled submission to the Father through the book of Matthew. Lord, instead of seeking guidance, may we seek submission, knowing that this is the only way to follow you fully.