While in Israel in the last two weeks, about 20 of us were Baptized or re-Baptized in the Jordan river. It probably wasn’t at the exact location recorded in Matthew 3:13, but it was in the same river and we also came from Galilee. This text says, “Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.” John Didn’t want to do it but Jesus insisted saying, “…is is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Last Friday my devotional thought was on pleasing the Father. When Jesus was speaking of His Father He said in John 8:29, “… I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” Obviously, Jesus began His ministry with His baptism by John, as a step of obedience and submission to His Father.

In 2 Kings 5, a diseased leper came to Israel to find healing from his disease. He expected Elisha to perform some radical ritual that would miraculously heal his sickness. But Elisha instructed him to “immerse or dip” himself seven times in the Jordan River. Naaman became angry and refused to do it because the rivers in his land were better than this little trickle. But he missed the point. It wasn’t about miracles or dramatic actions or great drama. It was about obedience. When Naaman’s servant convinced him of the simplicity of the action in comparison to what he’d be willing to do to be healed, verse 14 says, “so he went down and dipped himself (baptized) seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”

As Jesus explained to John the ritual of baptism isn’t the issue. It’s simply fulfilling all righteousness or obedience to God’s instructions. Obedience is the step that pleases God. That’s why Mark 1:9 tells us that after Jesus came up from the waters of baptism, “a voice came from Heaven saying, “you are my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” 1 John 3:21-22