Matthew 3:13-15 Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John,
to be baptized of him.
14 But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and You come to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered Him.
John felt that Jesus should baptize him, but Jesus insisted that John baptize Him. Jesus said, “Submit to this because it is necessary for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
There has been much debate among theologians in trying to determine why Jesus came to John for baptism. Since Jesus is the Christ they want to know why it was necessary for John to baptize Him. Their confusion is because of the fact that John’s ministry was a message and baptism of repentance. And since Jesus was without sin, why was it necessary? How could it fulfill all righteousness? The answer to these questions is found in understanding divine order.
Isaiah prophesied that one would be raised up as a forerunner to prepare the way of the Lord. The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3. John the Baptist knew that he was that voice. His ministry was to prepare the way for the ministry of Christ. After John began his ministry, priests and Levites were sent from Jerusalem to find out who he was. Who are you? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Are you Elias? And he said, I am not. Are you that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who are you? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What say you of yourself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. John 1:19-23.
John was the man of the hour. He was the anointed man of God at that particular time. Then Jesus came on the scene to begin His ministry, and it was necessary for John the forerunner to minister to Him.
Most people who feel they are called to the ministry today go to a Bible College or seminary for training. Upon graduation they receive a church and now feel they are a minister of God. However, it was not done that way either in the Early New Testament Church or in the Old Testament. The Scriptures give a divine order for becoming a ministry of the Lord. And that is what Jesus meant when He told John the Baptist that it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness.
There are a number of scriptures that illustrate the divine order for ministry. We will look at a few of them.
Joshua learned how to walk with God under the ministry of Moses. He had not only dedicated his heart to serve the Lord, but he was also a servant of Moses. Moses had led Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness to the borders of Canaan. When it came time for Israel to enter and possess the Promised Land, it was also time for a change in leadership. Joshua was chosen by God to lead His people into Canaan. Joshua had been trained well, but before he could begin his ministry it was necessary for all righteousness to be fulfilled. There was a divine order for setting the ministry of a man of God in motion. And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the Spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses. Deuteronomy 34:9. (Also see Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 1:38; 3:28; 31:7, 14,23.)
It was the same with Elijah and Elisha. Elijah was a prophet of the Lord, and Elisha was his servant. Elisha is described in the Bible as the one who poured water on the hands of Elijah (II Kings 3:11). Elisha learned to be a prophet through an humble ministry to a prophet. When Elijah’s ministry came to a close, his mantle of anointing fell upon Elisha. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah does rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. II Kings 2:13-15. Elisha had asked for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah (II Kings 2:9), and he received it. There are twice as many miracles recorded of Elisha than of Elijah. Once again we see the divine order of a man of God establishing a new ministry of the Lord. It was necessary for the anointing and authority of Elijah to be passed on to Elisha, that all righteousness might be fulfilled.
We find the same truth recorded in the New Testament. Even though Paul experienced Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, it was necessary for the prophet Ananias to lay hands on him and minister to him before he could preach Christ. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto you in the way as you came, has sent me, that you might receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Acts 9:17,20. Then when the time came for Paul and Barnabas to minister as apostles, it was necessary for the apostolic company at Antioch to lay hands on them and commission them (Acts 13:1-4).
The young man Timothy became a prophet and then an apostle by the same process of divine order. He had received Christ under the ministry of Paul and became one of his closest disciples. Timothy learned from Paul in the same way that Elisha had learned from Elijah. Before entering his ministry, Timothy was commissioned by the ministries of authority (I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6; 4:1-5).
Did Jesus follow the same principle? Yes, He did. Before He began His ministry, He went to the river Jordan and had John the Baptist minister to Him. When He came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came upon Him and God said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:16-17).
Jesus followed the pattern of divine order completely. Knowing that His ministry would have to continue after His ascension, He then called His disciples. The bulk of His ministry during the next three and one-half years was teaching them, so they would be prepared to carry on the ministry of Christ. Just before His ascension, He said to them, As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you (John 20:21). A few days later, on the Day of Pentecost, the mantle of Jesus Christ came upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).
It is quite obvious that the reason we do not see the same kind of ministry in the religious world today, as in the Bible, is because the pattern of divine order to fulfill all righteousness has not been followed. That doesn’t mean we don’t have real men of God today, but there are very few of them. As we said earlier, anyone who feels called of God can follow the route that is customary among religious organizations and become a minister. Depending upon their sincerity of heart and dedication there will be some measure of an anointing. But if one wants to be a real man of God and minister with the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, then he will have to “fulfill all righteousness.”
Copyright © 2003 by Henry DuBose