“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. But He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and fire” (Matthew 3:11).
The conversion of the arch-persecutor Saul of Tarsus, later to be known as Paul, is a resounding example of repentance. Paul’s attitude toward repentance was one of “regretful remembrance” of his own persecuting days and ways. He (Paul) deliberately accepted responsibility for his actions and error in objecting to the church of Christ; continuously persecuting and prosecuting Christians for their discipleship. God was not able to use Paul to his full potential until after he had repented and accepted Jesus for who He is, the Son of God.
Repentance always brings a person to this point; “I have sinned.” The most accurate sign God is at work in a person is when they say that and mean it. Anything less than this is simply remorse for having made blunders in your life, more of a reflex action of disgust for having done so. There is nothing that compares to a person saying “I am sorry” to God and meaning it. Do not confuse remorse with repentance, one you feel toward yourself the other you feel toward God.
“And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” (Matthew 3:14). Jesus and John were cousins, but there is no indication they had interacted before this event. Even today, many Christians have taken Jesus as their Savior and brother, but have not met Him for the first time. How can this be? Accepting Jesus, His teaching and-or accepting Him as your Lord and Savior is one thing, having Jesus to come to you to fulfill a prophetic mandate is something else. When Jesus comes to you, it is a profound experience that changes people’s lives forever.
“And Jesus answering said unto Him, “Permit it to be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him” (Matthew 3:15). John and many of us have spent a good part of our lives preaching the coming of Jesus while living without Jesus. It does not matter when or where, repentance is necessary when meeting Jesus for the first time. To repent means to change your mind. John had to change his mind about Jesus. John found himself having to acknowledge Jesus’ right to define what is right—and wrong—for him.
Repentance does not bring a sense of sin, but a sense of unspeakable unworthiness, John like Paul, had this experience when Jesus came to him. I felt the same way when I was called into the Ministry. I found myself thinking I was indeed this and that, but He wanted me to teach and preach? No way, I am not worthy. But a marvelous thing happened, He changed me. Like Jesus’ cousin John, I had to decrease within and without for Him to increase. I had to become a new creature in Him, I had to repent. You cannot have Christ and your sins too. You have to let one of them go.
“And suddenly a voice came from Heaven, saying: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). After His baptism by John, Jesus’ ministry is validated by God the Father. At Jesus’ baptism, God confirmed Jesus’ divine Sonship to all who were first-hand witnesses at the scene. I thank God that He reveals Himself in ways that all people can understand. When Jesus comes to you, He validates you as being worthy of all the things His Atonement makes possible. Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Amen.
Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ
- Why is the baptist church called baptist (wiki.answers.com)
- Sunday (Baptism of Jesus) (yourdailyprayer.wordpress.com)