Matthew’s Gospel was written to show that Jesus isn’t just another prophet or king. He’s the ultimate prophet-priest-king that the people had been waiting for. Jesus fulfilled everything that Moses foreshadowed, and he is the King who was promised to rescue Israel. Jesus is the one who restores humanity to the garden and God’s presence. And even more, Jesus is God with us. He is the place where Heaven and Earth overlap permanently. One of the many ways Matthew shared this truth was by recounting Jesus’ baptism.
Baptism is the reenactment of what it means to be rescued through waters of death in order to enter a new creation life. The practice of baptism is seen all throughout the story of the Bible, so when Jesus comes to be baptized, many of the baptismal events from the Hebrew Bible are alluded to and find their ultimate significance in this important scene. Jesus’ baptism is the beginning of a new creation. He is the ultimate Noah’s ark where we can be saved and start again. He is the new Moses who rescued us from slavery and into freedom. He is the new Joshua who we can follow into God’s promises. All that Jesus did when he underwent the violent flood of chaos in his crucifixion made a way for everyone who trusts in him to enter the new creation life that he offers. He is where life can flourish and God’s pleasure rests.
Let’s explore how these Old Testament allusions are evident in Matthew’s Gospel account of Jesus’ baptism.
Read: Matthew 3:5-17
Each Gospel account emphasizes a unique angle on Jesus’ time on Earth. Matthew’s Gospel makes clear, from its opening sentence, that Jesus is the fulfilment and continuation of the Hebrew Scriptures. He is the Messiah from the royal line of David, he is a new Moses, who has come to lead his people into a new covenant, and he is God with us—Immanuel.
From the calling of the disciples to the Great Commission, every part of this Gospel account shows readers how the promises and prophecies God made to his people in the Old Testament came to pass through Jesus.