"To Jordan's river came our Lord, The Christ, whom heav'nly hosts adored, The God from God, the Light from Light, The Lord of glory, pow'r, and might.
"The Savior came to be baptized—The Son of God in flesh disguised—To stand beneath the Father's will And all His righteousness fulfill."
There He was, the Son of God, standing in line at the Jordan River. "The God from God, the Light from Light" waited His turn to step down into the Jordan to be baptized by His kinsman John. Why did He, of all people, want to receive this Baptism of repentance? That is what John wanted to know: "I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" (Matthew 3:14b) The Lamb of God, Israel's long-awaited Messiah, was coming to him for Baptism? It should have been the other way around. John was a sinner who needed to be baptized by the sinless Son of God.
Jesus answered John, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15b). This was what the Heavenly Father wanted. Jesus would accomplish what Adam and Eve, and all people after them, had failed to do. As Scripture says, "None is righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10b). No one except the Son has lived in perfect righteousness and obedience before God. "In flesh disguised," the Son of God became one of us, "One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15b). The righteous Son came to stand in the place of sinners, as He did that day in the Jordan River.
Jesus had no sins of His own of which to repent; He had no sins of His own for which He must die. The Son came "to stand beneath the Father's will and all His righteousness fulfill." Jesus lived in perfect obedience to His Heavenly Father. When the right time came, "the Lord of glory, pow'r, and might" was lifted up on a cross and "numbered with the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12b). Jesus did not merely line up with sinners; He took our place in line, standing alone beneath the Father's just wrath against sin. He bore our sins in His body on the cross, suffering the penalty of death that we deserved.
That was the Father's will: "By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:3b-4). Jesus took our sins and, in exchange, clothes us in His righteousness. Through faith in Jesus, every righteous requirement of God's Law is fulfilled in our lives. Righteous now in the sight of God, we pray that we might reflect that righteousness to the world around us through lives of love and service in Jesus' Name.
THE PRAYER: Lord, I pray that my words and actions will be a witness to Your love. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn "To Jordan's River Came Our Lord," which is number 405 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Why did Jesus want to be baptized by John?
2. How did Jesus take "our place in line" when it comes to the Father's righteous judgment?
3. Why did God's own Son have to be our Savior? Why couldn't we work out our salvation on our own?
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