“If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally by doing something against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which ought not to be done, and is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering. Then the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour all the remaining blood at the base of the altar. He shall remove all its fat, as fat is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offering; and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet aroma to the Lord. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. If he brings a lamb as his sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish. Then he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill it as a sin offering at the place where they kill the burnt offering. The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour all the remaining blood at the base of the altar. He shall remove all its fat, as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offering. Then the priest shall burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire to the Lord. So the priest shall make atonement for his sin that he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him.”
Our Lord has blessed us so that we can preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. I can’t help but thank our Lord whenever I think about the blessed gospel of the water and the Spirit that the Lord has given us. So, although I am extremely busy with so much work and my everyday life is not so easy for me either, but I am still thankful that the Lord has become my everything, for He is alive in my heart. The Lord has enabled us to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit alone without any other assistance. The Lord and His righteousness is everything to me. I am sure you believe like this also. To you and me alike, the Lord is the Savior who has blotted all our sin, who is the Judge, and the Creator. We believe that by laying down His own life, He has given us new life. Our Lord has given us everything that is good. Whatever we have, there is nothing that we obtained on our own. All things were given to us by our Lord. When we think of the God-given salvation, we can realize that there is nothing that has not come from God.
Everything we have, from our salvation to the new life we are now enjoying and the Kingdom of Heaven to come, were all given to us by God thanks to the righteousness of the Lord. Even our condemnation of sins was borne by our Lord. We know that it is our Lord who has brought salvation to us, and who has given us everything we now have. Even at this very moment, you and I are living, all thanks to the righteousness of the Lord. If the Lord had not given us new life through the water and the Spirit, we would not be able to live forever. In other words, unless our Lord saved us, we could not have obtained everlasting life. Do you also think so? No matter how much we think about it, there is nothing that came from us. There is nothing that we can do on our own. Everything has been given to us by our Lord. After all, what could we ever achieve through our own efforts? Would our sins be blotted out if we tried hard enough? Everything has come about by our Lord’s permission, and through the water and the Spirit. It is the Lord Himself who accomplishes all things, and never through our own strength.
Have We All Received the Remission of Sins?
Today’s Scripture reading describes the sacrifice through which the sins of the common people were blotted out. It explains how the common people were to receive the remission of sins. However, in this passage also, the Lord made it clear that the remission of sins was to be received by offering a sacrificial animal in a sinner’s place according to God’s command. It’s recorded here in Leviticus 4:27-29: “If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally by doing something against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which ought not to be done, and is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering.”
Today’s Scripture passage explains what kind of offering should be sacrificed and how it should be offered by the common people when they sinned against God. The people of Israel often broke God’s commandments and did what He had told them not to do. For the common people to be washed from their sins on those occasions, they had to first realize the sins they had committed, and then only offer a sacrificial animal. Once they realized that they had sinned against God and broken His commandments by doing something He had told them not to do, then the way to be remitted from this was offering a sacrifice of faith to God according to the sacrificial system established by Him, as it is written, “If his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering” (Leviticus 4:28-29).
A “sin offering” was made when a sinner passed his sins to a sacrificial animal and blotted them out. In other words, when the Israelites committed sins, these sins remained in their hearts, but they could get them blotted them out by passing them to a sacrificial offering as set by God. The common people themselves did not blot out their sins, but rather, their sins were blotted out through an unblemished female goat, by them laying their hands on its head, drawing its blood, and sacrificing it as an offering. There was nothing extraordinary that the common people had to do to get their sins blotted out. All that they had to do was just realize their sins and offer a sacrifice to God according to the God-spoken sacrificial system of justice. The sacrificial female goat then bore the common people’s sins once and for all through the laying on of their hands, was condemned in their place, and as a result their sins were blotted out. Again, it was not the common people themselves that blotted out their sins on their own. Rather, their sins were blotted out as the female goat accepted these sins and was condemned in their place.
This implies that the salvation of mankind is fulfilled by our Lord Himself. It’s written here that when the people of Israel realized their sins, they had to offer a sacrificial animal to God, and in such burnt offerings and sin offerings, female goats were used as sacrificial offerings. The sacrificial offering here speaks about our Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament, that is, it explains how the Lord would bear all our sins once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, shed His blood as our own sacrificial offering, and thereby save us. Put differently, it is because our Lord bore all our sins once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist that He could shed His blood on the Cross. We all had sins, but just like the unblemished female goat mentioned here in the age of the Old Testament, our Lord came to us, took upon our sins once and for all by being baptized, shed His blood, and has through this saved us. The Lord Himself accepted our sins once and for all through the baptism He received from John the Baptist, and the Lord Himself bore the punishment for our sins on the Cross once and for all in our place.
Therefore, it is by faith that we are saved from all our sins, and this means salvation is reached only by believing in the righteousness of the Lord. There is no sin that can ever be washed away through our own human efforts, such as offering prayers of repentance or seeking sanctification. In other words, God has made it clear that our salvation is not reached through our own prayers of repentance. Because everyone is born as a descendant of Adam, everyone is born as a sinner automatically. Everyone, however, is created by God. Therefore, there is only way for human beings to obtain the washing away of their sins from God. They must confess themselves to God, saying, “Lord, I have sinned against You. I am a sinner by my nature. I have failed to live according to Your Word all this time.” One must then believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is how the remission of sins can be received. There is nothing more. All that we have to do is believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with which our Lord has blotted out our sins. Put differently, to blot out all our sins personally, the Lord Himself bore all the sins of everyone once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, shed His own blood on the Cross, and has thereby saved all those who believe in this.
The Lord has delivered us from all the sins of this world through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and this is the Truth. What enables us to be saved from the sins of this world is knowing and believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. All that we can do is keep committing sins time after time, keep realizing our sins time after time, and keep confessing them time after time, but the Lord has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, so what else could we do but believe? Born as sinners under the Law of God, we can’t help but sin all the time. Yet, our Lord loved such people like us even more and saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Having come to this earth to blot out our sins once and for all, the Lord bore them by being baptized by John the Baptist. And by shedding His blood on the Cross to death, our Lord bore the condemnation of our sins in our place.
The Scripture says that the common people had to offer an unblemished female goat for the remission of sins, but spiritually speaking, every human being is blemished. In this entire universe the only unblemished One is Jesus Christ. There is no one else unblemished but Jesus Christ, who created the heavens and the earth and came to save us from our sins once and for all. Our Lord never committed any sin while on this earth. He never sinned, not even once. The Bible says that even though people tried to push our Lord over the cliff to death, He walked through them unflinchingly and went on His way.
Jesus Christ has neither any weakness nor any blemishes. Our unblemished Lord came to this earth, and to blotted out all the sins of the entire human race, He bore all the sins of this world once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist, who fulfilled the last high priesthood of the Old Testament; He was then crucified to death while shouldering the sins of the world, and He rose from the dead again. To blot out everyone’s sins, the Lord Himself had become the sin offering by being baptized. In other words, the Lord accepted all the sins of this world by being baptized by John the Baptist. We have done nothing but commit sins since being born on this earth, but our Lord had already established a way to blot out all the sins of this world, so that He may save us from them. Let’s turn to Leviticus 4:28-29, “If his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering.”
When the people of the Old Testament committed sins, and when these sins came to their knowledge, they brought a sacrificial animal to the altar of burnt offering and passed their sins to it by laying their hands on its head. This laying on of hands was the method that God had set to remit away all the sins of the world. To save us from our sins, in other words, God fulfilled His will through this method of the laying on of hands. Having established the way of saving us from our sins, our Lord has saved us according to this way. Since God Himself had established that our salvation would come in this way, it was fulfilled accordingly. God Himself had come and set the way of saving us and remitting away the sins of mankind.
God said that the common people should bring an unblemished female goat and lay their hands on its head. Like this, when the people of Israel laid their hands on the head of their sacrificial animal, their sins were passed onto this sacrificial offering.
Now Let Us Look at How Sacrifices Were Offered on the Day of Atonement
Let’s turn to Leviticus 16:2, “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man.” As it’s written here, Aaron the high priest laid both his hands on the head of the goat, confessed all the iniquities and sins of the children of Israel over it, and sent the goat away out into the wilderness by the hands of a suitable man. This means that the high priest passed all the iniquities and sins of the children of Israel to the scape goat by laying his hands on its head. The “laying on of hands” means “to pass on,” “to transfer,” or “to bury.”
The Day of Atonement in the Old Testament implies that the Lord Himself had set and promised us a method and a way to blot out all our sins, and when the time came, He came to this earth and personally accepted all the sins of mankind by being baptized by John the Baptist, the representative of all mankind. In other words, the Lord Himself had set the way of blotting out our sins, and He had also said that He would make us righteous by thus blotting out our sins completely. Let me repeat here again, there is nothing that human beings can do on their own to blot out their sins.
It’s written, “And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering. Then the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour all the remaining blood at the base of the altar” (Leviticus 4:29-30). God said here that the sacrificial animal should be killed at the place of the burnt offering. When one entered into the Tabernacle through its gate, the first thing that you encountered was the place of the burnt offering. This was the place where sacrificial animals were offered to God by burning them. It was the place where sins were passed onto the sacrificial animal, and it was also the place of judgment. When an ordinary sacrifice was made, the sinner passed his sins to the sacrificial animal by laying his hands on its head, drew its blood by cutting its throat, gave this blood to the priest, and the priest put some of this blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and poured the rest out on the ground.
Then the sacrificial animal was cut into pieces and burnt on the altar of burnt offering. The burnt offering signified the following for the sinner: “Instead of me dying for being a sinner, this sacrificial animal accepted my sins and died before God in my place.” What would happen to us if we were judged? What would happen to sinners when they are judged for their sins? If people were to be judged for their sins and perish in the end, what is the point of being born on this earth in the first place, and why do we need the universe and all things in it? Without our existence, this universe and all things in it are completely useless. It’s because of our existence that everything in this universe needs to exist, and why God needs them also.
Likewise, who then took upon our sins for you and me in the age of the New Testament, and who bore the condemnation of sins in our place? It is the Lord who took upon our sins and bore the condemnation in our place. Just as the unblemished female goat accepted the sinner’s sins and died at the place of the burnt offering, so did our Lord bear the sins of the world once and for all by being baptized by John the Baptist; and just as God said that the wages of sin was death, so the Lord was crucified to death in our place, for He had shouldered our sins through His baptism. What is it that we did out of all these things? It is the Lord who did everything to blot out our sins, there is nothing that we ever did. That is why it is the grace of God and His gift that we have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Is Only by Believing in the Gospel of the Water and the Spirit That We Have Been Saved from Our Sins
We have done nothing but commit sins under the Law of God ever since we were born. The remission of our sins is all God’s doing. It is the Lord who let us be born on this earth, and it is also the Lord who let us be weak on this earth. Why did He bear all our sins and blot them out by being baptized? He did so to make us His children and let us live forever in glory in the Kingdom of Heaven, in His glorious Kingdom. There is nothing that we have done to achieve this. It is entirely the Lord’s doing. Instead of you and me being condemned for our sins, our Lord took upon all our sins and bore all their condemnation on the Cross. The unblemished female goat here refers to none other than our Lord. What then have we done? Nothing at all.
Until the age of 44 I had tried very had to accomplish something on this earth, but there was nothing that I could achieve in my own strength. Yet, the Lord fulfilled salvation through the water and the Spirit to save me from all my sins. He let me be born on this earth as a weak human being, and knowing that I would sin, the unblemished Lord came to this earth to blot out all my sins. The Lord Himself bore all my sins by being baptized by John the Baptist, and He was condemned for them on the Cross in my place. There is nothing that I did for my salvation.
Similarly, there is nothing that man has done to receive the remission of sins. What we must grasp here that you and I have received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and will go to Heaven, but this has nothing to do with our own efforts. Our salvation has been fulfilled by our Lord alone, who let us be born on this earth, bore all the sins of this world by being baptized by John the Baptist, and was condemned for our sins on the Cross. The only thing we can do is confess with our mouths that the Lord is the Lord of our life, the One who loves us, and the One who has given us everlasting life. And we can do no more than thank Him. In times past, however, people did all kinds of things trying to be remitted from their sins.
During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church used to sell indulgences claiming that this would remit away people’s sins. The claim was that the moment people purchased an indulgence, a soul that had already been cast into hell would go to Heaven. Even today, countless people foolishly try to receive the remission of sins through their own efforts, such as offering prayers of repentance, until that is, they come to know the gospel of the water and the Spirit. But, does anyone really receive the remission of sins by offering prayers of repentance or fasting? Can anyone be saved from his sins by trying so hard on his own like this? No, of course not. All the offerings and donations that Christians make to their churches go into building bigger and opulent churches. There are countless such opulent churches around the world.
These things happened in the past as they are happening now. If it were possible to be washed from our sins and enter the kingdom of heaven by offering money like this, why would it be necessary to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit? But, as I just mentioned, there is nothing that we can do for our salvation. The only thing that we can do is believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Were we born on this earth because of our own efforts? Were we born because we wanted to be born? No, in reality, we were born all under the plan of the Lord. When we received the remission of sins into our hearts by believing in the righteousness of the Lord, all the will of God towards us is fulfilled.
Let’s turn to Leviticus 4:31, “So the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.” For the priest to address the sins of the people, he must work according to God’s command. Our spiritual Priest is none other than our Lord. That’s why we call our Lord the “High Priest of Heaven.” The High Priest of Heaven has saved His people from all their sins by offering His own body to God the Father.
It’s written, “He shall remove all its fat, as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offering. Then the priest shall burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire to the Lord. So the priest shall make atonement for his sin that he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him” (Leviticus 4:35). The common people received the remission of sins only if the priest put the blood of the sacrificial animal on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, took its fat, and burnt it on the altar on behalf of the people. Our Lord is the unblemished High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven. The earthly high priest was a shadow of Jesus Christ, while the Lord is God Himself. As the Priest, the Lord bore all our sins by being baptized and died on the Cross.
Can anyone not commit any sins just by planning and determining himself not to sin anymore? No, of course not. While making the determination not to sin is itself a noble thing, when God made us mere human beings, He did not make us as such being that can avoid committing any sins just by determination. Rather, God made human beings as imperfect beings. Why? It’s because we could be saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that constitutes the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God made us as such imperfect beings so that He would make sinners righteous, turn them into His holy people, and let them live with Him forever in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Ephesians 1:4 says, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” This means that God let us be born as weak beings because He had planned that Jesus Christ would come to this earth personally, blot out all our sins, and make us His perfect people. That is why God allowed us to be born as imperfect beings from the beginning. Is there then anything that we can protest to God? No, of course not. Anyone who says, “Why did God make me so wretchedly weak?” is really challenging God the Creator. Such people might as well say to their own parents, “Why did you give birth to me? Since you gave birth to me anyways, you should treat me well and leave me a large inheritance.” Perhaps one can say such things to his parents of the flesh, but can any of us say it to God who created us? Can we really say to God, “Why did You create me so weak? You should have made me strong, so that I would not commit any sin if I just resolved myself not to sin”.
It is precisely because God made us as imperfect beings that we could become His precious children by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Angels can never become God’s children. Everything is decided by the Creator. Can this cup that you see here say, “I don’t like being a cup. I want to be a plate”? No, vessels are made according to the maker’s desires. If the maker decides to make a cup out of clay and use it for drinking water, the cup cannot protest. The same principle applies when it comes to the purpose for which God made us.
By bearing our sins and being condemned for them, God Himself has blotted out our sins once and for all. By taking upon all our sins and bearing all their condemnation once and for all, God Himself has saved us from all our sins. Given the fact that God has determined that the remission of sins would be received if we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, how can we reject it? Why would we grumble when God has enabled us to enter and live in His Kingdom if only we would have faith in His righteousness? On the contrary, we ought to be thanking God and believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit with gratitude.
A while ago, I had a chance to visit the University of Gangwon and see an art exhibition. Sister Haesook Heo had invited me to the exhibition, as it was held by her friend. There, I saw a painting with this title, “Are All These Things Predetermined?” The painting portrayed Heaven on one side and hell on the other side. So I scribbled a few words next to the painting. You know, some people think that who goes to Heaven or hell has already been predetermined, so they say that this is irrational. But, I wanted to make the point that God did not make human beings so that He would send them to hell.
As we saw in today’s Scripture reading, when the common people needed to receive the remission of sins, all they had to do was just realize their sins, and upon this knowledge, pass their sins to an unblemished female goat by laying their hands on its head, kill it, and give its blood to the priest. The female goat then accepted all their sins and shed its blood in their place, its fat was burnt on the altar of burnt offering in their place, and its flesh was discarded outside of the camp. All these things were done by the unblemished goat on behalf of the common people. There was noting that the common people did. All that they did was simply to believe in God’s Word just as it was and to obey it.
I mentioned just a few minutes ago about writing a few words next that painting. I can’t recall the exact words that I wrote, but I wrote something to the following effect: “God does not love just some people while hating others. Nor did God make some people just to cast them into hell and others to send to Heaven. But whoever believes in the righteousness of God is made into a righteous person, while hell was made for those who challenge the righteousness of God.” My point is that God did not make hell for people exclusively.
For whom then did God make hell for? When we turn to the Book of Revelation, we see that it is for the Devil who will be cast into the Abyss. As you know, the Devil is an angel that fell from grace. This angel fell because he challenged the righteousness of God by trying to become greater than God. Angels were right below God, so they were made to give God much honor. Despite this, one angel challenged God and tried to climb up above Him. So God made hell at that time, saying to Satan, “Will you be exalted to the end of the heavens? You shall be brought down to Hades.”
Like the angels that are spiritual beings, so God made us humans as very honorable beings. And God has given us personalities and a free will. Words cannot describe how thankful it is that we were made by God as such precious beings and are used by Him for His precious work. So how could anyone challenge the righteousness of God? How could a mere creature challenge God the Creator? What is so great about human beings, even if they are capable of greatness? Computer technology has advanced so much lately that we are now capable of making artificial intelligence. In sci-fi films, we even see computers controlling human beings, but no matter how much progress computer technology makes and how much computer capacity increases, a computer is just a computer and it can never be a creator. In other words, it cannot be better than human beings. No matter how capable a computer is, it is a child of the human brain, something that is made by man, not a self-existing being. Who then made man? It is God. It is the Lord who made or created us and who fulfills everything.
Can we reach salvation from our sins just by bowing down and offering our own prayers of repentance? Some Christians are deluded into thinking that they can receive the remission of sins if they go to church after sinning in the world, kneel down, and cry out to God in tears, “Lord, I have wronged. Please forgive me.” If this were the case, then why did the unblemished female goat in today’s Scripture reading have to die? If God were to forgive our sins like this, then there would have been no need for the unblemished female goat to die in place of the sinner. Whenever the common people sinned, they could have just said to God, “Lord, I am sorry that I have wronged You. Please forgive me.”
If forgiveness could be obtained by begging like this, then why did the unblemished female goat have to shed its blood to death, and why did it have to be burnt on the altar of burnt offering? And why did the priest have to work so hard to minister the sacrifice? The point I am making here is that the remission of sins is not received with just words. Just because we say to God, “Lord, please forgive me. Let this sin of mine slide by,” God does not turn a blind eye to our sins. God is the God of Truth, and therefore He cannot tolerate any sin. There are two things that the omniscient and omnipotent God cannot do. One is lying, and the other is sparing a sinner without any consequence. He even made His own Son bear the sins of the world and die on the Cross. Although God is the God of love, at the same time, He does not tolerate sin. That’s because God is holy. And because of this the Lord took upon all our sins, was condemned for them in our place, died in our place, and rose from the dead again, all to enable us to receive the remission of sins. And it is by believing in this gospel that we are saved.
Many Christians offer their own prayers of repentance in vain, claiming that they have received the “gift of repentance,” but what exactly is this gift of repentance? It’s absolute nonsense. You must be on your guard against such lies. You ought to think rationally and ask yourself, “What sin have I now committed against God?”
When a sin offering was made, a sacrificial animal was killed, its kidneys were removed, and the kidneys along with the fat were burnt on the altar of burnt offering. What does this mean? The primary function of kidneys is filtering our blood of bad elements. We must think rationally about what it is that we have wronged God, realize it, and filter it out like the kidneys. We must also recognize that we cannot avoid but be condemned for our sins. And we must realize as well that our Lord was condemned for all our sins in our place. Only then can we receive the remission of sins.
It is very important for us to realize here that when the common people received the remission of sins, their sins could be remitted away because the female goat had born them and was sacrificed in lieu of the common people. We have to realize clearly here that this remission of sins was not obtained because the common people had knelt down and begged. The so-called “gift of repentance” and the “gift of tears” are all nothing more than made-up stories resulting from a corrupted Christianity. It’s heart-wrenching to see people claiming to have received the gift of tears, but there is no reason for them to cry at all. In fact, when they come to church and cry, they are actually just venting out their frustration to the Lord after suffering some misfortune out in the world.
The remission of sins, however, is not received just by coming to church and crying a lot. Just because you shed tears, the Lord does not forgive your sins solely on this account. It’s not possible even if you cry a river. The remission of sins can be received from the Lord only if the wages of sins is paid by death. Blood must be shed. But, it would be self-defeating if we were put to death. That is precisely why God had prepared our own propitiation instead of putting us to death. Having thus prepared our own sacrificial offering, God has made it possible for us to receive the remission of sins if only we would by faith pass our sins to this sacrificial offering through the laying on of hands. The sacrificial offering would then bear the condemnation of our sins and accomplish everything for us. It is by believing in this Truth that we reach our salvation. Unfortunately, today’s Christianity has veered so far off from the Truth that it has turned itself into a superstition.
Nowadays many pastors consider their ministries as a simple occupation or referee. Like for example, a barber, when a pastor who has not been born again gives a sermon, he is just doing a job. The barber makes a living out of giving hair cuts, while a false pastor makes a living out of lying. The two are the same. Any pastor ministering without being born again is no different from a vendor in the market.
When Did Our Lord Bear Our Sins of the World?
Let us turn to Matthew 3:13-17 here: “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.’” The word “then” at the beginning of the passage here refers to when Jesus turned 30. During the age of the Old Testament, a priest had to turn 30 before assuming his ministry. This is all recorded in the Book of Numbers. Like this, Jesus “then” came to John the Baptist, when He turned 30. And He commanded John the Baptist to baptize Him. John the Baptist then asked Jesus, “How could such a lowly man like me baptize You, when I should be baptized by You?” But Jesus said firmly, “Permit it to be so now”, that is, to baptize Him—and John the Baptist allowed Him.
Where Jesus said here, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness,” the words “all righteousness” is “δικαιοσυνην (dik-ah-yos-oo’-nayn)” in the original text, that is, in Greek. This means “the most appropriate,” “the most right,” or “the fairest.” In other words, it was the most appropriate for John the Baptist to baptize Jesus. Why did Jesus want to be baptized by John the Baptist specifically? It’s because John the Baptist was the representative of all mankind.
When we turn to Matthew 11:11-13, we see Jesus saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” So, Jesus Himself made it clear that the representative of all mankind was no one other than John the Baptist. Before sending Jesus as promised, God had sent a representative of mankind who would minister as the last Old Testament high priest of the earth, and this man was John the Baptist. It is by being baptized by this John the Baptist that Jesus could bear all our sins. Jesus was saying to John the Baptist, “It is thus fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. It is right for you to baptize Me, for Me to be baptized by you, and thus blot out everyone’s sins and make atonement for them.”
The God-established method by which the common people in the Old Testament could receive the remission of their sins was by laying their hands on an unblemished female goat and thereby passing their sins to it. In a similar way, in the age of the New Testament, Jesus Himself bore all the sins of everyone by being baptized by John the Baptist. That is how Jesus made atonement for us, by taking up all our sins and being condemned for them in our place. And that is what is meant by atonement for sin, and how God has made everyone sinless. Put differently, Jesus accepted all the sins of mankind by being baptized in the Jordan River. The Jordan River is about waist-deep, but this is where He was immersed when He received baptism.
When Jesus came to John the Baptist, He commanded him, saying, “You shall baptize Me.” John the Baptist then said to Jesus, “Although I am the representative of mankind, are You not the Representative of the Kingdom of Heaven? So how could I even dare to baptize You?” To this, Jesus replied and said, “Permit it to be so. In this way, you shall pass the sins of the world to Me, and I shall accept them from you. This is the most fitting way to blot out everyone’s sins. Did I not promise it in the Old Testament? So it must be done in this way.” John the Baptist therefore laid both his hands on the head of Jesus, just like all high priests did in the past. This was the most appropriate way for the Lord to accept our sins.
No matter how hard we try, the sins that are inside us do not disappear. That is why our Lord came to this earth to blot out these sins, and He accepted them through John the Baptist in the most appropriate way. Having thus accepted our sins, the Lord was then crucified to death. It took Him three years to go the Cross since accepting our sins. The next day, after Jesus accepted all the sins of the world by being baptized, John the Baptist saw Jesus coming towards him again, he then bore witness of Him by saying, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Having thus taken away the sins of the world, the Lord carried them to the Cross. Having accepted the sins of the world, He shouldered them all to the Cross. And there, He was condemned in the place of us the sinners.
Just as the unblemished female goat accepted the sins of the common people, shed its blood, and was put to death in their place, Jesus also accepted our sins, carried them to the Cross, and was condemned in our place. That is why the Lord said in John 19:30, “It is finished!” When Jesus passed away after saying this, the veil of the Sanctuary was ripped apart from the top to bottom. This symbolizes that Jesus had completely fulfilled the remission of sins, which is obtainable neither by crying nor by repenting, by coming to this earth, being baptized in the Jordan River, and shedding His blood to death on the Cross. The Lord has saved all those who believe with their hearts that He has blotting out all the sins of this world in this way, and He has made them His own people.
All of these things were done by the Lord, there is nothing that we did. It is absolutely impossible for anyone to be spared from condemnation as long as he is sinful. Neither crying nor repentance can accomplish this, as a hymn goes, “Crying can’t deliver us. Tears can’t make us sinless, nor can they send us to Heaven. Neither our own effort nor our own virtue can save us.” However, our Lord has accomplished our salvation. He has saved us all and blotted out all our sins.
What about you then? Do you believe that there is nothing we have done for our salvation? What is there that human beings have done for salvation? Can you and I really avoid committing any sin just by trying hard? No, this is impossible. Of course, I’m not saying here that you should feel free to sin. Rather, my point is that we must remember that our Lord took away all the sins of the world. He bore the sins of the world in the most appropriate way, by being baptized. He accepted all the sins of the world precisely because we cannot help but sin until the day we die. He did this to make us whole, so that we would receive the remission of sins by faith.
Let me emphasize once again that there is nothing that we have done or deserved for this. We have received the remission of sins not because of anything of our own doing, but all because of what our Lord has done for us. It is also the Lord who has made us righteous. It is also the Lord who let us be born. It is also the Lord who has given us everlasting life. And it is also the Lord who has blessed us to enter Heaven. The fact that we are alive, that we can breathe, has all been made possible because the Lord has given us the air to breathe. Like this, there is nothing of our own doing. God is now admonishing us to preach this gospel and this love. He has entrusted us with the task of making it possible for everyone to receive the remission of sins, and He is telling us to spread this gospel.
The Lord is saying to us that He Himself has saved us, that He will send us to Heaven, that He has made us righteous, and that He has blessed us. All these things have been done by the Lord. There is nothing that we have done. It is all by the grace of the Lord that we have reached our salvation, received His blessings, become God’s workers, and will go to the everlasting Kingdom. All of this is a gift from God. It is not something that we have received as a reward for our own effort. Everything has come by the grace of God. We have put on God’s infinite love and grace. We are living in the presence of God by His love. I give all thanks and praise to our Lord for everything He has done for us!