Jesus is Revealed as Our Perfect Substitute
These are the readings for the Baptism of Our Lord Sunday.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
“Why did Jesus need to be baptized? I thought baptism was for sinners?” That’s a common question among Christians. It doesn’t make sense that our Savior, who was perfectly sinless, would need to be baptized, and yet he was. Why? Because Jesus had come to be our perfect substitute, and he is revealed as such in his baptism. God laid on him the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). Even from birth he endured the effects of our sin. Jesus wasn’t a sinner himself, but he was carrying our sin, pain, and sorrow (Is 53:4). He needed the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness, just as if he were a sinner himself. Jesus received those promises in baptism, just like we do.
First Lesson – Isaiah 42:1-7
Who is the “servant of the Lord” being spoken about in these verses?
What kind of person would he be?
Through the prophet we hear that this servant would be quiet (verse 2), gentle (verse 3), faithful, and just (verses 3,4).
What job would the Lord give to him?
Isaiah says that Jesus would be a “light for the Gentiles” (verse 6) in words that are similar to Simeon’s (Luke 2:29-32).
Second Lesson – Acts 10:34-38
What realization did Peter finally have about God?
Peter now realized that God didn’t show favoritism toward his Old Testament people, the Jews. Jesus was the Savior of all people. God wants that truth shared with all nations.
What did Jesus receive in his baptism? (See 10:38)
Peter says that he received a special measure of the Holy Spirit and power. In Jesus’ baptism, God the Father was preparing his Son for the tough road ahead. He assured him of his faithful love and guidance.
Gospel – Matthew 3:13-17
How did John react when Jesus came to be baptized?
He refused because he knew that Jesus was not a sinner himself.
What answer did Jesus give?
He insisted that John baptize him “to fulfill all righteousness” (v 15). Jesus is pointing out to John that, while he didn’t have any personal sin, he was carrying the sins of the world. He had come to be our perfect substitute. He needed the promises of God that baptism gives us.
What three persons were present at Jesus’ baptism?
The three persons of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) were present at Jesus’ baptism. In the same way, the Holy Trinity was present at our baptisms, as we are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).