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. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17
It’s not every day you get physical manifestations of all three persons of the trinity. There, by the Jordan River, stood Jesus, the physical Son of God. There, like a dove, was the physical Spirit of God. There, in the voice from heaven, spoke the Father of God. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment. This was clearly something special, and it was special for many reasons.
The Father, Son, and Spirit were telling people to pay attention. It was highly unusual, and it built on the unique nature of the moment. John had been baptizing people in the river for months, maybe years. Nothing like this had ever happened. God wanted to get our attention, so He did this. “But wait, there’s more,” He might have said as soon as Jesus came up from under the water.
They were establishing Jesus’ bona fides. The Father Himself identified Jesus as His Son. He wasn’t just the carpenter from Nazareth. He wasn’t just another prophet, or another desert preacher, or a talented rabbi. He was God Immanuel, with a special life for a special mission.
They were giving us proof. They clearly identified Jesus as God’s Son, His only Son. Further, they identified heaven as real. Only a real place could open. Only real beings could do all this.
They were doing a miracle, something to be remembered. God wanted people to remember all this, to know it was significant and would mean something for the rest of time. Nothing like this had ever happened before, or since. Centuries later, we’re still talking about it.
They were equipping Jesus for what was to come. This was the start of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Immediately after this, He went further into the desert and stayed there for 40 days. He took neither food nor water, and when He was at His weakest point, Satan appeared to tempt Him. Sure, Jesus was God, but as a man, all this would have been extremely debilitating. This moment by the river gave Him strength to endure the trials Satan had Him endure, then the trials of the years ahead.
They were being God. Only God could do all this. And He did it for the benefit of the people there watching. He did it so they would know who He is, and so they would talk about it. He did it so we would know. Things like these events don’t happen every day.
For more reading: Isaiah 11:2, Isaiah 42:1, Ezekiel 1:1, John 1:51, Acts 7:56, Acts 10:11, Revelation 4:1, Revelation 19:11, Matthew 4:1
God, You are magnificent. Praise to You for what you did at Your baptism, for these accounts.