The Fourfold Gospel
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton (1914)

P A R T    T H I R D.
(Jordan east of Jericho, Spring of A. D. 27.)
aMATT. III. 13-17; bMARK I. 9-11; cLUKE III. 21-23.

      b9 And {a13 Then} bit came to pass in those days, that Jesus came {acometh} bfrom Nazareth of Galilee, ato the Jordan [Tradition fixes upon a ford of Jordan east of Jericho as the place where Jesus was baptized. It is the same section of the river which opened for the passage of Israel under Joshua, and later for Elijah and Elisha. This ford is seventy or eighty miles from Nazareth] unto John, to be baptized of him [He set out from Nazareth, intending to be baptized. Such was his intention before he heard John preach, and he was therefore not persuaded to do it by the preaching. His righteousness was not the result of human persuasion.] band was baptized of John in [Greek "into." The body of Jesus was immersed or plunged into the river]   14; aBut John would have hindered him [It seemed to John too great an honor for him to baptize Jesus, and too great a humiliation for Jesus to be baptized. There is some dispute as to how John came to know this righteousness of Christ, which prompted his protest. The one natural explanation is, that the intimacy of the two families indicated at the beginning of Luke's account had been kept up, and John knew the history of his kinsman], saying, I have need to be baptized of thee [those are most fit to administer an ordinance who have themselves deeply experienced the need [82] of it], and comest thou to me? [John felt that he needed Jesus' baptism, but could not think that Jesus needed his. The words "I," "thee," "thou," and "me," show that John contrasted the baptizers as well as the baptisms. As a human being he marveled that the Son of God should come to him to be immersed. The comings of Jesus and the purposes for which he comes are still the greatest marvels which confront the minds of men. Moreover, it should be noted that this protest of John's needed to be made, for it saved Jesus from being baptized without explanation, as if he were a sinner. Baptism without such explanation might have compromised our Lord's claim as the sinless one.]   15 But Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it now [Permit me for this moment to appear as your inferior. The future will make plain and clear the difference between us, both as to our missions and our natures. The words show a Messianic consciousness on the part of Jesus]: for thus it becometh us [Some take the word "us" as referring to Jesus and John, but the clause "to fulfil all righteousness" shows that "us" refers to Jesus, and he uses the plural to show that it also becometh all of us] to fulfil all righteousness [Jesus came not only to fulfill all the requirements of the law, but also all that wider range of righteousness of which the law was only a part. 1. Though John's baptism was no part of the Mosaic ritual, it was, nevertheless, a precept of God, given by his prophet (John i. 33). Had Jesus neglected or refused to obey this precept he would have lacked a portion of the full armor of righteousness, and the Pharisees would have hastened to strike him at this loose joint of his harness (Matt. xxi. 23-27). 2. It was the divinely appointed method by which the Messiahship of Jesus was to be revealed to the witness John (John i. 33, 34). We should note here that those who fail to obey God's ordinance of baptism fail (1) to follow the example of Jesus in fulfilling the divine will and precepts; (2) to obey one of the positive commands of almighty God spoken by his own Son.] Then he suffereth him. [John's humility [83] caused him to shrink from this duty, but did not make him willfully persist in declining it. Humility ceases to be a virtue when it keeps us from performing our allotted tasks.]   c21 Now it came to pass, when all the people were baptized [This may mean that, on the day of his baptism, Jesus was the last candidate, and hence his baptism was the most conspicuous of all; but it more probably means that Jesus was baptized in the midst of John's work--at the period when his baptism was in greatest favor],that, Jesus also having been {a16 And Jesus, when he was} cbaptized, and praying [All divine ordinances should be accompanied with prayer. Luke frequently notes the times when Jesus prayed. Here, at the entrance of his ministry, he prayed, and at the last moment of it he also prayed (Luke xxiii. 46). In his highest exultation at the transfiguration (Luke ix. 29), and in the lowest depths of humiliation in Gethsemane (Luke xxii. 41), he prayed. He prayed for his apostles whom he chose (Luke vi. 12), and for his murderers by whom he was rejected (Luke xxiii. 34). He prayed before Peter confessed him (Luke ix. 18), and also before Peter denied him--Luke xxii. 32],  b10 And straightway coming up out of {awent up straightway from} bthe water [the two prepositions, "out of" and "from," show that Jesus was not yet fully out of the river, and that the vision and the voice were immediately associated with his baptism], aand lo, bhe saw [The statement that he saw the Spirit descending, which is also the language of Matthew, has been taken by some as implying that the Spirit was invisible to the multitude. But we know from John's narrative that it was also seen by John the Baptist (John i. 33, 34), and if it was visible to him and to Jesus, and it descended, as Luke affirms, in a bodily shape like a dove (Luke iii. 22), it would have required a miracle to hide it from the multitude. Moreover, the object of the Spirit's visible appearance was to point Jesus out, not to himself, but to others; and to point him out as the person concerning whom the voice from heaven was uttered. No doubt, then, the Spirit was visible and audible to all who [84] were present *] the heavens rent asunder [for], athe heavens were {cheaven was} aopened unto him [The heavens open at the beginning of Jesus' ministry to honor him, and at the end of it to receive him. Christ is the opener of heaven for all men], and he saw the Spirit of God descending [the Spirit came upon Jesus to give him the miraculous power which he afterward exerted--Luke iv. 14] as a dove [That is, like a dove. All four evangelists are careful to inform us that it was not an actual dove], and coming upon him;   c22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form [Lightfoot suggests that the Spirit thus descended that he might be revealed to be a personal substance and not merely an operation of the Godhead, and might thus make a sensible demonstration as to his proper place in the Trinity], as a dove [The descent of the Spirit upon Jesus was in accordance with prophecy (Isa. xi. 2; xli. 1). The dove shape suggests purity, gentleness, peace, etc. Jesus makes the dove a symbol of harmlessness (Matt. x. 15). In fact, the nature of this bird makes it a fit emblem of the Spirit, for it comports well with the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. v. 22, 23). The nations of the earth emblazon eagles upon their banners and lions upon their shields, but He who shall gather all nations into his kingdom, appeared as a Lamb, and his Spirit appeared under the symbol of a dove. Verily his kingdom is not of this world. It [85] is a kingdom of peace and love, not of bloodshed and ambition. Noah's dove bore the olive branch, the symbol of peace, and the Holy Spirit manifested Jesus, God's olive branch of peace sent into this world--Ps. lxxii. 7; Luke ii. 14; John xiv. 27; Eph. ii. 11-18],upon him,   a17 and lo, a voice ccame aout of the heavens, {cheaven} [Voices from heaven acknowledged the person of Christ at his birth, his baptism, his transfiguration and during the concluding days of his ministry. At his baptism Jesus was honored by the attestation of both the Spirit and the Father. But the ordinance itself was honored by the sensible manifestation of each several personality of the Deity--that the three into whose name we ourselves are also baptized], asaying, This is {bthou art} [The "this is," etc. of Matthew are probably the words as John the Baptist reported them; the "thou art," etc., of Mark and Luke are the words as Jesus actually heard them. The testimony of the Father is in unreserved support of the fundamental proposition of Christianity on which the church of Christ is founded (Matt. xvi. 15-18). On this point no witness in the universe was so well qualified to speak as the Father, and no other fact was so well worthy the honor of being sanctioned by his audible utterance as this. The testimony of Christ's life, of his works, of the Baptist, and of the Scriptures might have been sufficient; but when the Father himself speaks, who shall doubt the adequacy of the proof?] amy beloved Son [See also Matt. xvii. 5. The Father himself states that relationship of which the apostle John so often spoke (John i. 1). Adam was made (Gen. i. 26), but Jesus was begotten (Ps. ii. 7). Both were sons of God, but in far different senses. The baptism of Jesus bears many marked relationships to our own: 1. At his baptism Jesus was manifested as the Son of God. At our baptism we are likewise manifested as God's children, for we are baptized into the name of the Father, and are thereby permitted to take upon ourselves his name. 2. At his baptism Jesus was fully commissioned as the Christ. Not anointed with material oil, but divinely consecrated and qualified by the Spirit and accredited by the Father. At baptism we also [86] received the Spirit (John iii. 5; Acts ii. 38; xix. 1-6), who commissions and empowers us to Christian ministry--Acts i. 8; I. John iii. 24], in whom {cin thee} [Some make the phrases "in whom" and "in thee" to mean more than simply a declaration that God is pleased with Jesus. They see in it also the statement that the Father will be pleased with all who are "in Christ Jesus"--Eph. i. 6] aI am well pleased [It is no slight condemnation to be well pleasing to God (Job iv. 18). It is the Christian's joy that his Saviour had this commendation of the Father at the entrance upon his ministry.]   c23 And Jesus himself, when he began to teach, was about thirty years of age. [The age when a Levite entered upon God's service (Num. iv. 3, 47); at which Joseph stood before Pharaoh (Gen. xli. 46); at which David began to reign (II. Sam. v. 4). Canon Cook fixes the date of Christ's baptism in the spring A. U. C. 780. Wiseler in the summer of that year, and Ellicott in the winter of that year.]

* Recognizing the weight of Bro. McGarvey's argument, I nevertheless contend that the multitude only shared partially in such a vision, if they shared it at all; for 1. There is no Scripture which even hints that the vision was seen by more than the two "inspired" parties, Jesus and John; and, on the contrary, the words of Jesus at John v. 37, though not addressed to the specific audience present at his baptism, were addressed to the Jews generally. 2. Jesus was to be manifested by his character and teaching rather than by heavenly sights and sounds (Matt. xii. 39), and the mysteries of the kingdom (Matt. xiii. 11), and the opened heavens (John i. 50, 51), with many other manifestations, were reserved for believers (John xii. 28-30; Matt. xvii. 1, 2, 9; Acts i. 9; vii. 55, 59; x. 40, 41), and are still so reserved (I. Cor. ii. 14). As to the arguments given above, we suggest that "bodily shape" does not insure universal sight. Baalam did not see what the ass saw (Num. xxii. 21-31). Again, it may be true that Jesus did not need to see the vision to "point him out to himself," but he must have needed it for some purpose, for it is twice asserted that he saw it, and the temptations which immediately follow show that assurances of his divinity at this particular time were by no means misplaced.
[FFG 82-87]

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