“Righteousness,” today we have lost the full meaning of the word.
Let’s explore the defintions:
- A common dictionary definition will report something like this: “acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin; morally right or justifiable.”
- A biblical definition would most likely read: “the state of moral perfection required by God to enter heaven.”
- The original Greek word translated as righteousness means: “the character or quality of being right or just”…”the righteousness of God” means essentially the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises.” (Vine’s Dictionary)
John knew what the word “repentance” meant so he protested when Jesus presented Himself for baptism in the Jordan River. He knew his cousin was free from sin. How did John know this? John was filled with the Holy Spirit, so it is most likely that the Spirit made John aware that Jesus had no need of repentance. It is likely also that his cousin would have been a topic of family conversation. John’s mother Elizabeth knew of the miraculous circumstances of Jesus’ birth. Surely the child’s progress from boyhood to manhood was monitored by Elizabeth and his unusual, flawless life would have been just another wonder to be discussed in hushed tones at family gatherings. So, John protested:
“I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
John knew who Jesus was. From other sources we know that John declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Only a sinless Lamb could do that.
The reply of Jesus to John’s protest tells us much:
“Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
The baptism of Jesus was not one of repentance but of identification. Jesus came as the fulfillment of all the covenantal promises of God—all righteousness—the full and complete character of God. God’s faithfulness, God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s truth and even God’s justice were all fulfilled in Jesus. He had laid aside His omnipresence to be in only one place at time. He forewent His omniscience to know only what He observed through the five human senses and by the voice of the Spirit within. He surrendered His omnipotence to retain only the strength of his splendid, sin-free human body and mind and heart. But He maintained the love of God, the faithfulness of God, the mercy of God, and the truth of God in His earthly life. At the cross He would demonstrate the justice of God. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness and the dripping waters of Jordan raining from His clothes when He emerged from the river proved it.
His Father’s Voice
When Jesus emerged from the water, He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove to land on His shoulder. I believe everyone saw the dove, too. The Dove lighted gently on one shoulder and remained there so still as the crowd took a gigantic unison breath. As if to prove what their eyes beheld, the Dove puffed up its chest and flapped its wings and walked across the strong back of Jesus’ neck to other shoulder and settled there. A low moan of awe came from the people watching this. Then something truly spectacular happened. A voice like thunder spoke from the heavens. Like thunder it was but the words were clearly understood:
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Father, Son, and Spirit in perfect communion on the banks of the old river; it was a miracle witnessed by all who were there that day and one never forgotten by any.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9-10
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
Lord Jesus, Your work on this earth was complete. Your love from heaven is without flaw or weakness. You truly fulfilled all righteousness as You walked this earth. Now, ruling from the Throne of Heaven, You fulfill all righteousness. You provide for those who trust in You and even for those who don’t. You have hemmed me in behind and before and laid Your hand upon me. I have a destiny in You and today I choose to walk in it. For Your glory, Lord! Amen.
Christ Is My Everything
Christ is my everything. Christ is my all.
Christ is my everything both great and small.
He gave His life for me, made everything new.
Christ is my everything, say, how about you?
He Is Lord
He is Lord. He is Lord.
He has risen from the dead and He is Lord.
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.