#DailyDevotion Jesus Is Our Scapegoat
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14John tried to stop Him. “I need to be baptized by You,” he said, “and You come to me?” 15“Permit it now,” Jesus answered him. “That is how we should fulfill all righteousness.”
It must have been strange for John to see Jesus coming up to him to be baptized by him. John after all had been preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He was calling sinners to repent. The baptism he was baptizing with was for sinners. The messiah on the other hand, the one coming to baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit would have no need of such a baptism. He was not a sinner. Yet here Jesus was, the messiah coming to John to be baptized by him. It was such a shock John tried to prevent it from happening. “I need to be baptized by You,” he said, “and You come to me?” Indeed John was a sinner. He could have used the baptism by Jesus yet it was not to be. The great thing about baptism is that it doesn’t require the instrument of the baptism to be perfect and holy. You just need to be the one called to do it at the time.
John was the one called to baptize at this time and this place. For all we know he had been baptized by someone else before he started his ministry. What is important here is what is happening. Who is getting baptized? What sort of baptism are they receiving? What does it mean that Jesus gets baptized with John’s baptism? Jesus tells John, “Permit it now. That is how we should fulfill all righteousness” Permit. It’s a very varied meaning word in the Greek. It is the same word for forgive, but also let, sent, go, suffer and the like. So it just depends upon the context. While we may like to make hay of its meaning to forgive here because of baptism, let or permit are the most likely meanings here in context. But Jesus says strangely here, “That is how we should fulfill all righteousness.”
We, John and Jesus, are fulfilling all righteousness in John baptizing Jesus. Remember John’s baptism is a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus in the act of being baptized is identifying himself as a sinner who needs forgiveness. Jesus, here in being baptized, is being baptized into our sin and death. Instead of washing away Jesus’ sin, which he had none, the sin of the world is being laid upon him. He is identified as Adam, who brought sin into the world. Adam’s sin is now his own. He is identified with you. Your sin is now his own. He is identified with Israel. Israel’s sin is now his own. As the high priest who lays his hand upon the scapegoat and lays the sin of Israel upon the scapegoat to carry them away into the wilderness, John in baptizing Jesus lays the sin of the world on Jesus so the Spirit may lead him into the wilderness with our sin.
In becoming our scapegoat, Jesus fulfills all righteousness. The guiltless for the guilty is sacrificed. He truly becomes us in his baptism doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Our sins are sent away (there’s that Greek word again) with Jesus. He is baptized into our sin. We are baptized into him and his righteousness. O blessed exchange!
Heavenly Father, you had John baptize Jesus your son into our sin so he may take them away and so we may receive his righteousness. Grant us faith and your Holy Spirit in our baptism that our sins may be washed away and we receive the righteousness of Jesus. In his name we pray. Amen.