9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
...raising up children to Abraham from stones -- creating Israelites out of Gentiles upon the same principle that "Israelites indeed" were created out of mere natural Jews styled by Paul "Jews outwardly."
Peter, to whom the opening of the kingdom to the Gentiles was committed, went to the house of Cornelius upon this mission. He invited them to become Israelites in every respect except the accident of fleshly descent, which "profited nothing" in the begettal of sons to Deity.
When he recounted what he had done to the brethren, he told them that
"Deity put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith."
And afterwards, when writing to these newly created Israelites, he says:
"Ye as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to the Deity through Jesus Christ."
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
In the case of the wheat, at the proper time, the reaper appears, and cuts it down, gathers it together, and then separates the good ears from the chaff. He stores the wheat in his garner, but the chaff he burns or throws away.
Now to my mind, this is a most faithful picture in figure of the circumstances attending the judgment, as we are taught to understand it by Christ and his apostles; indeed it is a picture of the judgment that the Saviour himself paints for us in one of his parables.
Christ having effected his work as the fertilizer of the dormant seeds, now becomes the reaper, and proceeds, in exact analogy with the reaper of the grain, to separate the produce gathered before him: the good he admits into his garner-the kingdom of God; but the bad he rejects and destroys; and just as the grain of the farmer is not properly raised till it is placed in the storehouse, all clean and separated from the impurity which necessarily accompanied it in its growing state, so the believers in Jesus Christ do not arrive at the proper resurrected state-to that state spoken of by Christ as "in the resurrection"-until they have been winnowed by the winnowing fan of the judgment, and freed from all the imperfection that they necessarily possessed before that judgment process had been undergone.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, Dec 1868
13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
...no one knew that this unpretending carpenter was the one they were looking for.
After a word of protest from John, he is buried in the water. He rises: and, while all eyes are upon him, a shaft of light strikes from the heavens,
Nazareth Revisited Ch 5
14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
Had Jesus yielded to John (supposing the thing to have been possible), he would have stood before his nation as the High Priest of Israel, claiming to officiate in the Most Holy Place without baptism, a spectacle it had never seen before, nor ever will while the world stands.
But the symbolic righteousness of the Mosaic law not only required the High Priest to put on the Holy Vestments by having his body baptized, but it also commanded his Household to be baptized into theirs also.
The law reads thus:
"This is the thing Yahweh commanded to be done: and Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water. And he put upon Aaron the coat, &c.; and he put coats upon his sons, and girded them with girdles, and put turbans upon them, as Yahweh commanded."
-Lev. 8:5, 6, 13; 16:4. *
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Many have wondered why he should have been baptised, in view of the association of baptism with repentance and the remission of sins. There is no real occasion for quandary. There was a need for some circumstance or situation as the occasion for Christ's "manifestation" to Israel: and John's institution of baptism (first made an object of public attention in the way exhibited in chapters iv. and v.) was provided for this purpose.
Secondly, there was a fitness in Christ's submission to that ordinance, in view of the work he had come to do. Nay, we may go further and say there was a necessity. The work he had come to do was first of all a work of obedience in himself.
["By one man's obedience, shall many be made righteous" -- (Rom, v. 19). "He learnt obedience by (or in) the things that he suffered" (Heb. v. 8).]
Now, John's baptism was a matter of divine command.
...it was no adaptation by John of a previously practised ceremony, but an institution of direct divine appointment. Consequently, submission to it was obligatory on every faithful Israelite.
Its observance was part of the "obedience" which Christ rendered. He had to be obedient in many things: for he was "made under the law," which imposed many duties, to all of which he had to conform in the process of extricating the faithful from the dominion of the law. He had to be obedient even unto death.
But he had to be obedient also at the hands of John. Without this submission, the "righteousness" he wrought out for repentant sinners would have been incomplete. Hence it is easy to understand his response to John's demur to baptise him.
"Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."
Whatever God appoints to be done is righteousness in the doing of it. For this reason, Christ's baptism in the Jordan was part of the righteousness he developed.
But why, it has been asked, should he who was sinless be called upon to submit to an institution which was for the remission of sin? We need not ask this question. It is sufficient if God required him to submit to it. But the question will be asked, rejoins the curious; and there ought to be an answer. Well, and there is an answer.
Although Jesus was not a transgressor by his own action he was partaker, for the time being, of a sin-constitution of things. He was born into a state that was evil because of sin: and he partook of all the evil of that state, even unto death itself, working in the nature he bore as the son of Mary. It was to open a way out of that evil state for man that he was
"made of a woman, under the law."
The way had to be opened conformably with the divine principles involved. A beginning had to be made with himself, as the foundation on which other men could build.
In the first instance, as "the son of David, the son of Abraham," he was as much subject to the reign of death, established in Adam's race by sin, as any of those he came to redeem. His mission was to break into this reign of death by obedience, death and resurrection, illustrating and establishing God's righteousness in all its bearings.
For his sake, men's sins were to be forgiven. Therefore, he was "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." In view of all this, it was not incongruous -- on the contrary, it was in beautiful harmony with his work, that, on the threshold of the public phase of it, he should be called upon to submit to a ritual act which symbolised the putting away of sin.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 11.
God said to Moses: and elsewhere he says that "the Jews have the model of the knowledge and of the truth in the law." From which, and other passages that can be adduced, it is evident that the following proposition is true, namely,That the Mosaic System of Righteousness is symbolical of the Righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
Definition. - By "Mosaic System of Righteousness" is meant, All that was necessary to sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, but which could not free the conscience from sin. To impart this carnal purification to the worshipper a High Priest and his Household, distinct from the other classes of the Jewish nation, legally inaugurated and sanctified, were necessary; also a tabernacle, sacrifices, washings, &c., &c.
Definition. - By the "Righteousness of God" is meant, A justification from all past sins devised and enjoined by God-a purification of the heart, or conscience, without the necessity of obeying the law of Moses (which since the Destruction of Jerusalem cannot be kept) but attested by that law and the prophets-a justification through Jesus Christ's faith δια πιστεως Ιησου Ξριστου dia pisteōs Jēsou Christou) that is, through belief of what He and his apostles preached concerning the Kingdom of God and his Name (Acts 8:12): in other words, through belief of the Gospel to all that shall put on Christ-Gal. 3:27.
-The "Righteousness of God" is the "Gospel of the Kingdom, " sometimes called "the gospel of Christ, " and often simply "the gospel, " which Paul says,
"is the power of God for salvation of every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and then to the Greek," or Gentile.*
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
And thus John's work came to its culminating point. Its particular object was now accomplished, Jesus, by its means, was manifested to Israel under circumstances that made the introduction effectual, and free from doubt.
Nazareth Revisited Ch 5
...clearly evincing that he must first have gone down into it.
And now, mark this well-After he had done this, God acknowledged him as His son, and declared himself well pleased with him.-Mat. 3:13-17. Jesus had been God's most excellent Son for thirty years, but He withheld His acknowledgment of him till he commenced a course of obedience in being baptized.
Jesus was a Jew under the law of Moses. When, therefore, he spoke of the "all righteousness" to be "fulfilled," he spoke of the necessity of doing what was signified by the propheto-symbolic institutions of the Mosaic Law.
Jesus being the Anointed Seed long promised of God, was therefore the High Priest who was to arise after the similitude, likeness, or order of Melchizedec, and to sit upon his throne as a priest upon his throne, and to bear the glory (Zech. 6.). This being so, he would have at some future time to occupy the place formerly held by Aaron; and as the Aaronic Inauguration was representative of the Melchizedec, Jesus had to be consecrated after the same example or type, that in so doing he might antitypically fulfil the representation of the law.*
*Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, March 1855
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
It was not necessary to prove his obedience, for this had been abundantly put to the test during a whole life without sin. There was a deeper reason: and in the contemplation of this deeper reason, we may understand how the death of Christ was "a sweet-smelling savour" to the Eternal Father. This deeper reason is hinted at by Paul in the statements that, God thus "condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3) and set forth Christ crucified as a declaration of his righteousness (3:25) in the destruction of the devil having the power of death (Heb. 2:14) that "the body of sin might be destroyed" (Rom. 6:6, 10).
When we apprehend the principle that underlies these phrases, we may understand how the tragedy which they describe should be to God "an odour of a sweet smell." The principle involved is the supremacy of God and the absolute ascendancy of His will in the ways of man. This principle was set aside in the transgression of our first parents, and has been set aside ever since in the life of their posterity-in consequence of which, death reigns.
Sunday Morning 299