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Luke 3:21

Eusebian Number 3.13 (Table I)

1.14 2.5 3.13 4.15
Matt.3.16-17 Mark.1.9-11 Luke.3.21-22 John.1.32-34
16
The Baptism of Jesus.

      13 Then cometh 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 comest thou to me?   15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.   16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:   17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

      Our Lord Jesus, from his childhood till now, when he was almost thirty years of age, had lain hid in Galilee, as it were, buried alive; but now, after a long and dark night, behold, the Sun of righteousness rises in glory. The fulness of time was come that Christ should enter upon his prophetical office; and he chooses to do it, not at Jerusalem (though it is probable that he went thither at the three yearly feasts, as others did), but there where John was baptizing; for to him resorted those who waited for the consolation of Israel, to whom alone he would be welcome. John the Baptist was six months older than our Saviour, and it is supposed that he began to preach and baptize about six months before Christ appeared; so long he was employed in preparing his way, in the region round about Jordan; and more was done towards it in these six months than had been done in several ages before. Christ's coming from Galilee to Jordan, to be baptized, teaches us not the shrink from pain and toil, that we may have an opportunity of drawing nigh to God in ordinance. We should be willing to go far, rather than come short of communion with God. Those who will find must seek.

      Now in this story of Christ's baptism we may observe,

      I. How hardly John was persuaded to admit of it, v. 14, 15. It was an instance of Christ's great humility, that he would offer himself to be baptized of John; that he who knew no sin would submit to the baptism of repentance. Note, As soon as ever Christ began to preach, he preached humility, preached it by his example, preached it to all, especially the young ministers. Christ was designed for the highest honours, yet in his first step he thus abases himself. Note, Those who would rise high must begin low. Before honour is humility. It was a great piece of respect done to John, for Christ thus to come to him; and it was a return for the service he did him, in giving notice of his approach. Note, Those that honour God he will honour. Now here we have,

      1. The objection that John made against baptizing Jesus, v. 14. John forbade him, as Peter did, when Christ went about to wash his feet, John xiii. 6, 8. Note, Christ's gracious condescensions are so surprising, as to appear at first incredible to the strongest believers; so deep and mysterious, that even they who know his mind well cannot soon find out the meaning of them, but, by reason of darkness, start objections against the will of Christ. John's modesty thinks this an honour too great for him to receive, and he expresses himself to Christ, just as his mother had done to Christ's mother (Luke i. 43); Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? John had now obtained a great name, and was universally respected: yet see how humble he is still! Note, God has further honours in reserve for those whose spirits continue low when their reputation rises.

      (1.) John thinks it necessary that he should be baptized of Christ; I have need to be baptized of thee with the baptism of the Holy Ghost, as of fire, for that was Christ's baptism, v. 11. [1.] Though John was filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb (Luke i. 15), yet he acknowledges he had need to be baptized with that baptism. Note, They who have much of the Spirit of God, yet, while here, in this imperfect state, see that they have need of more, and need to apply themselves to Christ for more. [2.] John has need to be baptized, though he was the greatest that ever was born of woman; yet, being born of a woman, he is polluted, as others of Adam's seed are, and owns he had need of cleansing. Note, The purest souls are most sensible of their own remaining impurity, and seek most earnestly for spiritual washing. [3.] He has need to be baptized of Christ, who can do that for us, which no one else can, and which must be done for us, or we are undone. Note, The best and holiest of men have need of Christ, and the better they are, the more they see of that need. [4.] This was said before the multitude, who had a great veneration for John, and were ready to embrace him for the Messiah; yet he publicly owns that he had need to be baptized of Christ. Note, It is no disparagement to the greatest of men, to confess that they are undone without Christ and his grace. [5.] John was Christ's forerunner, and yet owns that he had need to be baptized of him. Note, Even they who were born before Christ in time depended on him, received from him, and had an eye to him. [6.] While John was dealing with others about their souls, observe how feelingly he speaks of the case of his own soul, I have need to be baptized of thee. Note, Ministers, who preach to others, and baptize others, are concerned to look to it that they preach to themselves, and be themselves baptized with the Holy Ghost. Take heed to thyself first; save thyself, 1 Tim. iv. 16.

      (2.) He therefore thinks it very preposterous and absurd, that Christ should be baptized by him; Comest thou to me? Does the holy Jesus, that is separated from sinners, come to be baptized by a sinner, as a sinner, and among sinners? How can this be? Or what account can we give of it? Note, Christ's coming to us may well be wondered at.

      2. The overruling of this objection (v. 15); Jesus said, Suffer it to be so now. Christ accepted his humility, but not his refusal; he will have the thing done; and it is fit that Christ should take his own method, though we do not understand it, nor can give a reason for it. See,

      (1.) How Christ insisted upon it; It must be so now. He does not deny that John had need to be baptized of him, yet he will now be baptized of John. Aphes arti--Let it be yet so; suffer it to be so now. Note, Every thing is beautiful in its season. But why now? Why yet? [1.] Christ is now in a state of humiliation: he has emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation. He is not only found in fashion as a man, but is made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and therefore now let him be baptized of John; as if he needed to be washed, though perfectly pure; and thus he was made sin for us, though he knew no sin. [2.] John's baptism is now in reputation, it is that by which God is now doing his work; that is the present dispensation, and therefore Jesus will now be baptized with water; but his baptizing with the Holy Ghost is reserved for hereafter, many days hence, Acts i. 5. John's baptism has now its day, and therefore honour must now be put upon that, and they who attend upon it must be encouraged. Note, They who are of greatest attainments in gifts and graces, should yet, in their place, bear their testimony to instituted ordinances, by a humble and diligent attendance on them, that they may give a good example to others. What we see God owns, and while we see he does so, we must own. John was now increasing, and therefore it must be thus yet; shortly he will decrease, and then it will be otherwise. [3.] It must be so now, because now is the time for Christ's appearing in public, and this will be a fair opportunity for it, See John i. 31-34. Thus he must be made manifest to Israel, and be signalized by wonders from heaven, in that act of his own, which was most condescending and self-abasing.

      (2.) The reason he gives for it; Thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness. Note, [1.] There was a propriety in every thing that Christ did for us; it was all graceful (Heb. ii. 10; vii. 26); and we must study to do not only that which behoves us, but that which becomes us; not only that which is indispensably necessary, but that which is lovely, and of good report. [2.] Our Lord Jesus looked upon it as a thing well becoming him, to fulfil all righteousness, that is (as Dr. Whitby explains it), to own every divine institution, and to show his readiness to comply with all God's righteous precepts. Thus it becomes him to justify God, and approve his wisdom, in sending John to prepare his way by the baptism of repentance. Thus it becomes us to countenance and encourage every thing that is good, by pattern as well as precept. Christ often mentioned John and his baptism with honour, which that he might do the better, he was himself baptized. Thus Jesus began first to do, and then to teach; and his ministers must take the same method. Thus Christ filled up the righteousness of the ceremonial law, which consisted in divers washings; thus he recommended the gospel-ordinance of baptism to his church, put honour upon it, and showed what virtue he designed to put into it. It became Christ to submit to John's washing with water, because it was a divine appointment; but it became him to oppose the Pharisees' washing with water, because it was a human invention and imposition; and he justified his disciples in refusing to comply with it.

      With the will of Christ, and this reason for it, John was entirely satisfied, and then he suffered him. The same modesty which made him at first decline the honour Christ offered him, now made him do the service Christ enjoined him. Note, No pretence of humility must make us decline our duty.

      II. How solemnly Heaven was pleased to grace the baptism of Christ with a special display of glory (v. 16, 17); Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water. Others that were baptized staid to confess their sins (v. 6); but Christ, having no sins to confess, went up immediately out of the water; so we read it, but not right: for it is apo tou hydatos--from the water; from the brink of the river, to which he went down to be washed with water, that is, to have his head or face washed (John xiii. 9); for here is no mention of the putting off, or putting on, of his clothes, which circumstance would not have omitted, if he had been baptized naked. He went up straightway, as one that entered upon his work with the utmost cheerfulness and resolution; he would lose no time. How was he straitened till it was accomplished!

      Now, when he was coming up out of the water, and all the company had their eye upon him,

      1. Lo! the heavens were opened unto him, so as to discover something above and beyond the starry firmament, at least, to him. This was, (1.) To encourage him to go on in his undertaking, with the prospect of the glory and joy that were set before him. Heaven is opened to receive him, when he has finished the work he is now entering upon. (2.) To encourage us to receive him, and submit to him. Note, In and through Jesus Christ, the heavens are opened to the children of men. Sin shut up heaven, put a stop to all friendly intercourse between God and man; but now Christ has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Divine light and love are darted down upon the children of men, and we have boldness to enter into the holiest. We have receipts of mercy from God, we make returns of duty to God, and all by Jesus Christ, who is the ladder that had its foot on earth and its top in heaven, by whom alone it is that we have any comfortable correspondence with God, or any hope of getting to heaven at last. The heavens were opened when Christ was baptized, to teach us, that when we duly attend on God's ordinances, we may expect communion with him, and communications from him.

      2. He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, or as a dove, and coming or lighting upon him. Christ saw it (Mark i. 10), and John saw it (John i. 33, 34), and it is probable that all the standers-by saw it; for this was intended to be his public inauguration. Observe,

      (1.) He saw the Spirit of God descended, and lighted on him. In the beginning of the old world, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters (Gen. i. 2), hovered as a bird upon the nest. So here, in the beginning of this new world, Christ, as God, needed not to receive the Holy Ghost, but it was foretold that the Spirit of the Lord should rest upon him (Isa. xi. 2; lxi. 1), and here he did so; for, [1.] He was to be a Prophet; and prophets always spoke by the Spirit of God, who came upon them. Christ was to execute the prophetic office, not by his divine nature (says Dr. Whitby), but by the afflatus of the Holy Spirit. [2.] He was to be the Head of the church; and the Spirit descended upon him, by him to be derived to all believers, in his gifts, graces, and comforts. The ointment on the head ran down to the skirts; Christ received gifts for men, that he might give gifts to men.

      (2.) He descended on him like a dove; whether it was a real, living dove, or, as was usual in visions, the representation or similitude of a dove, is uncertain. If there must be a bodily shape (Luke iii. 22), it must not be that of a man, for the being seen in fashion as a man was peculiar to the second person: none therefore was more fit than the shape of one of the fowls of heaven (heaven being now opened), and of all fowl none was so significant as the dove. [1.] The Spirit of Christ is a dove-like spirit; not like a silly dove, without heart (Hos. vii. 11), but like an innocent dove, without gall. The Spirit descended, not in the shape of an eagle, which is, though a royal bird, yet a bird of prey, but in the shape of a dove, than which no creature is more harmless and inoffensive. Such was the Spirit of Christ: He shall not strive, nor cry; such must Christians be, harmless as doves. The dove is remarkable for her eyes; we find that both the eyes of Christ (Cant. v. 12), and the eyes of the church (Cant. i. 15; iv. 1), are compared to doves' eyes, for they have the same spirit. The dove mourns much (Isa. xxxviii. 14). Christ wept oft; and penitent souls are compared to doves of the valleys. [2.] The dove was the only fowl that was offered in sacrifice (Lev. i. 14), and Christ by the Spirit, the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God. [3.] The tidings of the decrease of Noah's flood were brought by a dove, with an olive-leaf in her mouth; fitly therefore are the glad tidings of peace with God brought by the Spirit as a dove. It speaks God's good will towards men; that his thoughts towards us are thoughts of good, and not evil. By the voice of the turtle heard in our land (Cant. ii. 12), the Chaldee paraphrase understands, the voice of the Holy Spirit. That God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, is a joyful message, which comes to us upon the wing, the wings of a dove.

      3. To explain and complete this solemnity, there came a voice from heaven, which, we have reason to think, was heard by all that were present. The Holy Spirit manifested himself in the likeness of a dove, but God the Father by a voice; for when the law was given they saw no manner of similitude, only they heard a voice (Deut. iv. 12); and so this gospel came, and gospel indeed it is, the best news that ever came from heaven to earth; for it speaks plainly and fully God's favour to Christ, and us in him.

      (1.) See here how God owns our Lord Jesus; This is my beloved Son. Observe, [1.] The relation he stood in to him; He is my Son. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, by eternal generation, as he was begotten of the Father before all the worlds (Col. i. 15; Heb. i. 3); and by supernatural conception; he was therefore called the Son of God, because he was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost (Luke i. 35); yet this is not all; he is the Son of God by special designation to the work and office of the world's Redeemer. He was sanctified and sealed, and sent upon that errand, brought up with the Father for it (Prov. viii. 30), appointed to it; I will make him my First-born, Ps. lxxxix. 27. [2.] The affection the Father had for him; He is my beloved Son; his dear Son, the Son of his love (Col. i. 13); he has lain in his bosom from all eternity (John i. 18), had been always his delight (Prov. viii. 30), but particularly as Mediator, and in undertaking the work of man's salvation, he was his beloved Son. He is my Elect, in whom my soul delights. See Isa. xlii. 1. Because he consented to the covenant of redemption, and delighted to do that will of God, therefore the Father loved him. John x. 17; iii. 35. Behold, then, behold, and wonder, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that he should deliver up him that was the Son of his love, to suffer and die for those that were the generation of his wrath; nay,and that he therefore loved him, because he laid down his life for the sheep! Now know we that he loved us, seeing he has not withheld his Son, his only Son, his Isaac whom he loved, but gave him to be a sacrifice for our sin.

      (2.) See here how ready he is to own us in him: He is my beloved Son, not only with whom, but in whom, I am well pleased. He is pleased with all that are in him, and are united to him by faith. Hitherto God had been displeased with the children of men, but now his anger is turned away, and he has made us accepted in the Beloved, Eph. l. 6. Let all the world take notice, that this is the Peace-maker, the Days-man, who has laid his hand upon us both, and that there is no coming to God as a Father, but by him as Mediator, John xiv. 6. In him our spiritual sacrifices are acceptable, for his the Altar that sanctifies every gift, 1 Pet. ii. 5. Out of Christ, God is a consuming Fire, but, in Christ, a reconciled Father. This is the sum of the whole gospel; it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that God has declared, by a voice from heaven, that Jesus Christ is his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased, with which we must by faith cheerfully concur, and say, that he is our beloved Saviour, in whom we are well pleased.

17
The Baptism of Jesus.

      13 Then cometh 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 comest thou to me?   15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.   16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:   17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

      Our Lord Jesus, from his childhood till now, when he was almost thirty years of age, had lain hid in Galilee, as it were, buried alive; but now, after a long and dark night, behold, the Sun of righteousness rises in glory. The fulness of time was come that Christ should enter upon his prophetical office; and he chooses to do it, not at Jerusalem (though it is probable that he went thither at the three yearly feasts, as others did), but there where John was baptizing; for to him resorted those who waited for the consolation of Israel, to whom alone he would be welcome. John the Baptist was six months older than our Saviour, and it is supposed that he began to preach and baptize about six months before Christ appeared; so long he was employed in preparing his way, in the region round about Jordan; and more was done towards it in these six months than had been done in several ages before. Christ's coming from Galilee to Jordan, to be baptized, teaches us not the shrink from pain and toil, that we may have an opportunity of drawing nigh to God in ordinance. We should be willing to go far, rather than come short of communion with God. Those who will find must seek.

      Now in this story of Christ's baptism we may observe,

      I. How hardly John was persuaded to admit of it, v. 14, 15. It was an instance of Christ's great humility, that he would offer himself to be baptized of John; that he who knew no sin would submit to the baptism of repentance. Note, As soon as ever Christ began to preach, he preached humility, preached it by his example, preached it to all, especially the young ministers. Christ was designed for the highest honours, yet in his first step he thus abases himself. Note, Those who would rise high must begin low. Before honour is humility. It was a great piece of respect done to John, for Christ thus to come to him; and it was a return for the service he did him, in giving notice of his approach. Note, Those that honour God he will honour. Now here we have,

      1. The objection that John made against baptizing Jesus, v. 14. John forbade him, as Peter did, when Christ went about to wash his feet, John xiii. 6, 8. Note, Christ's gracious condescensions are so surprising, as to appear at first incredible to the strongest believers; so deep and mysterious, that even they who know his mind well cannot soon find out the meaning of them, but, by reason of darkness, start objections against the will of Christ. John's modesty thinks this an honour too great for him to receive, and he expresses himself to Christ, just as his mother had done to Christ's mother (Luke i. 43); Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? John had now obtained a great name, and was universally respected: yet see how humble he is still! Note, God has further honours in reserve for those whose spirits continue low when their reputation rises.

      (1.) John thinks it necessary that he should be baptized of Christ; I have need to be baptized of thee with the baptism of the Holy Ghost, as of fire, for that was Christ's baptism, v. 11. [1.] Though John was filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb (Luke i. 15), yet he acknowledges he had need to be baptized with that baptism. Note, They who have much of the Spirit of God, yet, while here, in this imperfect state, see that they have need of more, and need to apply themselves to Christ for more. [2.] John has need to be baptized, though he was the greatest that ever was born of woman; yet, being born of a woman, he is polluted, as others of Adam's seed are, and owns he had need of cleansing. Note, The purest souls are most sensible of their own remaining impurity, and seek most earnestly for spiritual washing. [3.] He has need to be baptized of Christ, who can do that for us, which no one else can, and which must be done for us, or we are undone. Note, The best and holiest of men have need of Christ, and the better they are, the more they see of that need. [4.] This was said before the multitude, who had a great veneration for John, and were ready to embrace him for the Messiah; yet he publicly owns that he had need to be baptized of Christ. Note, It is no disparagement to the greatest of men, to confess that they are undone without Christ and his grace. [5.] John was Christ's forerunner, and yet owns that he had need to be baptized of him. Note, Even they who were born before Christ in time depended on him, received from him, and had an eye to him. [6.] While John was dealing with others about their souls, observe how feelingly he speaks of the case of his own soul, I have need to be baptized of thee. Note, Ministers, who preach to others, and baptize others, are concerned to look to it that they preach to themselves, and be themselves baptized with the Holy Ghost. Take heed to thyself first; save thyself, 1 Tim. iv. 16.

      (2.) He therefore thinks it very preposterous and absurd, that Christ should be baptized by him; Comest thou to me? Does the holy Jesus, that is separated from sinners, come to be baptized by a sinner, as a sinner, and among sinners? How can this be? Or what account can we give of it? Note, Christ's coming to us may well be wondered at.

      2. The overruling of this objection (v. 15); Jesus said, Suffer it to be so now. Christ accepted his humility, but not his refusal; he will have the thing done; and it is fit that Christ should take his own method, though we do not understand it, nor can give a reason for it. See,

      (1.) How Christ insisted upon it; It must be so now. He does not deny that John had need to be baptized of him, yet he will now be baptized of John. Aphes arti--Let it be yet so; suffer it to be so now. Note, Every thing is beautiful in its season. But why now? Why yet? [1.] Christ is now in a state of humiliation: he has emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation. He is not only found in fashion as a man, but is made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and therefore now let him be baptized of John; as if he needed to be washed, though perfectly pure; and thus he was made sin for us, though he knew no sin. [2.] John's baptism is now in reputation, it is that by which God is now doing his work; that is the present dispensation, and therefore Jesus will now be baptized with water; but his baptizing with the Holy Ghost is reserved for hereafter, many days hence, Acts i. 5. John's baptism has now its day, and therefore honour must now be put upon that, and they who attend upon it must be encouraged. Note, They who are of greatest attainments in gifts and graces, should yet, in their place, bear their testimony to instituted ordinances, by a humble and diligent attendance on them, that they may give a good example to others. What we see God owns, and while we see he does so, we must own. John was now increasing, and therefore it must be thus yet; shortly he will decrease, and then it will be otherwise. [3.] It must be so now, because now is the time for Christ's appearing in public, and this will be a fair opportunity for it, See John i. 31-34. Thus he must be made manifest to Israel, and be signalized by wonders from heaven, in that act of his own, which was most condescending and self-abasing.

      (2.) The reason he gives for it; Thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness. Note, [1.] There was a propriety in every thing that Christ did for us; it was all graceful (Heb. ii. 10; vii. 26); and we must study to do not only that which behoves us, but that which becomes us; not only that which is indispensably necessary, but that which is lovely, and of good report. [2.] Our Lord Jesus looked upon it as a thing well becoming him, to fulfil all righteousness, that is (as Dr. Whitby explains it), to own every divine institution, and to show his readiness to comply with all God's righteous precepts. Thus it becomes him to justify God, and approve his wisdom, in sending John to prepare his way by the baptism of repentance. Thus it becomes us to countenance and encourage every thing that is good, by pattern as well as precept. Christ often mentioned John and his baptism with honour, which that he might do the better, he was himself baptized. Thus Jesus began first to do, and then to teach; and his ministers must take the same method. Thus Christ filled up the righteousness of the ceremonial law, which consisted in divers washings; thus he recommended the gospel-ordinance of baptism to his church, put honour upon it, and showed what virtue he designed to put into it. It became Christ to submit to John's washing with water, because it was a divine appointment; but it became him to oppose the Pharisees' washing with water, because it was a human invention and imposition; and he justified his disciples in refusing to comply with it.

      With the will of Christ, and this reason for it, John was entirely satisfied, and then he suffered him. The same modesty which made him at first decline the honour Christ offered him, now made him do the service Christ enjoined him. Note, No pretence of humility must make us decline our duty.

      II. How solemnly Heaven was pleased to grace the baptism of Christ with a special display of glory (v. 16, 17); Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water. Others that were baptized staid to confess their sins (v. 6); but Christ, having no sins to confess, went up immediately out of the water; so we read it, but not right: for it is apo tou hydatos--from the water; from the brink of the river, to which he went down to be washed with water, that is, to have his head or face washed (John xiii. 9); for here is no mention of the putting off, or putting on, of his clothes, which circumstance would not have omitted, if he had been baptized naked. He went up straightway, as one that entered upon his work with the utmost cheerfulness and resolution; he would lose no time. How was he straitened till it was accomplished!

      Now, when he was coming up out of the water, and all the company had their eye upon him,

      1. Lo! the heavens were opened unto him, so as to discover something above and beyond the starry firmament, at least, to him. This was, (1.) To encourage him to go on in his undertaking, with the prospect of the glory and joy that were set before him. Heaven is opened to receive him, when he has finished the work he is now entering upon. (2.) To encourage us to receive him, and submit to him. Note, In and through Jesus Christ, the heavens are opened to the children of men. Sin shut up heaven, put a stop to all friendly intercourse between God and man; but now Christ has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Divine light and love are darted down upon the children of men, and we have boldness to enter into the holiest. We have receipts of mercy from God, we make returns of duty to God, and all by Jesus Christ, who is the ladder that had its foot on earth and its top in heaven, by whom alone it is that we have any comfortable correspondence with God, or any hope of getting to heaven at last. The heavens were opened when Christ was baptized, to teach us, that when we duly attend on God's ordinances, we may expect communion with him, and communications from him.

      2. He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, or as a dove, and coming or lighting upon him. Christ saw it (Mark i. 10), and John saw it (John i. 33, 34), and it is probable that all the standers-by saw it; for this was intended to be his public inauguration. Observe,

      (1.) He saw the Spirit of God descended, and lighted on him. In the beginning of the old world, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters (Gen. i. 2), hovered as a bird upon the nest. So here, in the beginning of this new world, Christ, as God, needed not to receive the Holy Ghost, but it was foretold that the Spirit of the Lord should rest upon him (Isa. xi. 2; lxi. 1), and here he did so; for, [1.] He was to be a Prophet; and prophets always spoke by the Spirit of God, who came upon them. Christ was to execute the prophetic office, not by his divine nature (says Dr. Whitby), but by the afflatus of the Holy Spirit. [2.] He was to be the Head of the church; and the Spirit descended upon him, by him to be derived to all believers, in his gifts, graces, and comforts. The ointment on the head ran down to the skirts; Christ received gifts for men, that he might give gifts to men.

      (2.) He descended on him like a dove; whether it was a real, living dove, or, as was usual in visions, the representation or similitude of a dove, is uncertain. If there must be a bodily shape (Luke iii. 22), it must not be that of a man, for the being seen in fashion as a man was peculiar to the second person: none therefore was more fit than the shape of one of the fowls of heaven (heaven being now opened), and of all fowl none was so significant as the dove. [1.] The Spirit of Christ is a dove-like spirit; not like a silly dove, without heart (Hos. vii. 11), but like an innocent dove, without gall. The Spirit descended, not in the shape of an eagle, which is, though a royal bird, yet a bird of prey, but in the shape of a dove, than which no creature is more harmless and inoffensive. Such was the Spirit of Christ: He shall not strive, nor cry; such must Christians be, harmless as doves. The dove is remarkable for her eyes; we find that both the eyes of Christ (Cant. v. 12), and the eyes of the church (Cant. i. 15; iv. 1), are compared to doves' eyes, for they have the same spirit. The dove mourns much (Isa. xxxviii. 14). Christ wept oft; and penitent souls are compared to doves of the valleys. [2.] The dove was the only fowl that was offered in sacrifice (Lev. i. 14), and Christ by the Spirit, the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God. [3.] The tidings of the decrease of Noah's flood were brought by a dove, with an olive-leaf in her mouth; fitly therefore are the glad tidings of peace with God brought by the Spirit as a dove. It speaks God's good will towards men; that his thoughts towards us are thoughts of good, and not evil. By the voice of the turtle heard in our land (Cant. ii. 12), the Chaldee paraphrase understands, the voice of the Holy Spirit. That God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, is a joyful message, which comes to us upon the wing, the wings of a dove.

      3. To explain and complete this solemnity, there came a voice from heaven, which, we have reason to think, was heard by all that were present. The Holy Spirit manifested himself in the likeness of a dove, but God the Father by a voice; for when the law was given they saw no manner of similitude, only they heard a voice (Deut. iv. 12); and so this gospel came, and gospel indeed it is, the best news that ever came from heaven to earth; for it speaks plainly and fully God's favour to Christ, and us in him.

      (1.) See here how God owns our Lord Jesus; This is my beloved Son. Observe, [1.] The relation he stood in to him; He is my Son. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, by eternal generation, as he was begotten of the Father before all the worlds (Col. i. 15; Heb. i. 3); and by supernatural conception; he was therefore called the Son of God, because he was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost (Luke i. 35); yet this is not all; he is the Son of God by special designation to the work and office of the world's Redeemer. He was sanctified and sealed, and sent upon that errand, brought up with the Father for it (Prov. viii. 30), appointed to it; I will make him my First-born, Ps. lxxxix. 27. [2.] The affection the Father had for him; He is my beloved Son; his dear Son, the Son of his love (Col. i. 13); he has lain in his bosom from all eternity (John i. 18), had been always his delight (Prov. viii. 30), but particularly as Mediator, and in undertaking the work of man's salvation, he was his beloved Son. He is my Elect, in whom my soul delights. See Isa. xlii. 1. Because he consented to the covenant of redemption, and delighted to do that will of God, therefore the Father loved him. John x. 17; iii. 35. Behold, then, behold, and wonder, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that he should deliver up him that was the Son of his love, to suffer and die for those that were the generation of his wrath; nay,and that he therefore loved him, because he laid down his life for the sheep! Now know we that he loved us, seeing he has not withheld his Son, his only Son, his Isaac whom he loved, but gave him to be a sacrifice for our sin.

      (2.) See here how ready he is to own us in him: He is my beloved Son, not only with whom, but in whom, I am well pleased. He is pleased with all that are in him, and are united to him by faith. Hitherto God had been displeased with the children of men, but now his anger is turned away, and he has made us accepted in the Beloved, Eph. l. 6. Let all the world take notice, that this is the Peace-maker, the Days-man, who has laid his hand upon us both, and that there is no coming to God as a Father, but by him as Mediator, John xiv. 6. In him our spiritual sacrifices are acceptable, for his the Altar that sanctifies every gift, 1 Pet. ii. 5. Out of Christ, God is a consuming Fire, but, in Christ, a reconciled Father. This is the sum of the whole gospel; it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that God has declared, by a voice from heaven, that Jesus Christ is his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased, with which we must by faith cheerfully concur, and say, that he is our beloved Saviour, in whom we are well pleased.

9
The Baptism of Jesus.

      9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.   10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:   11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.   12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.   13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

      We have here a brief account of Christ's baptism and temptation, which were largely related Matt. iii. and iv.

      I. His baptism, which was his first public appearance, after he had long lived obscurely in Nazareth. O how much hidden worth is there, which in this world is either lost in the dust of contempt and cannot be known, or wrapped up in the veil of humility and will not be known! But sooner or later it shall be known, as Christ's was.

      1. See how humbly he owned God, by coming to be baptized of John; and thus it became him to fulfil all righteousness. Thus he took upon him the likeness of sinful flesh, that, though he was perfectly pure and unspotted, yet he was washed as if he had been polluted; and thus for our sakes he sanctified himself, that we also might be sanctified, and be baptized with him, John xvii. 19.

      2. See how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John's baptism. Those who justify God, and they are said to do, who were baptized with the baptism of John, he will glorify, Luke vii. 29, 30.

      (1.) He saw the heavens opened; thus he was owned to be the Lord from heaven, and had a glimpse of the glory and joy that were set before him, and secured to him, as the recompence of his undertaking. Matthew saith, The heavens were opened to him. Mark saith, He saw them opened. Many have the heavens opened to receive them, but they do not see it; Christ had not only a clear foresight of his sufferings, but of his glory too.

      (2.) He saw the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. Note, Then we may see heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spirit descending and working upon us. God's good work in us is the surest evidence of his good will towards us, and his preparations for us. Justin Martyr says, that when Christ was baptized, a fire was kindled in Jordan: and it is an ancient tradition, that a great light shone round the place; for the Spirit brings both light and heat.

      (3.) He heard a voice which was intended for his encouragement to proceed in his undertaking, and therefore it is here expressed as directed to him, Thou art my beloved Son. God lets him know, [1.] That he loved him never the less for that low and mean estate to which he had now humbled himself; "Though thus emptied and made of no reputation, yet he is my beloved Son still." [2.] That he loved him much the more for that glorious and kind undertaking in which he had now engaged himself. God is well pleased in him, as referee of all matters in controversy between him and man; and so well pleased in him, as to be well pleased with us in him.

      II. His temptation. The good Spirit that descended upon him, led him into the wilderness, v. 12. Paul mentions it as a proof that he had his doctrine from God, and not from man--that, as soon as he was called, he went not to Jerusalem, but went into Arabia, Gal. i. 17. Retirement from the world is an opportunity of more free converse with God, and therefore must sometimes be chosen, for a while, even by those that are called to the greatest business. Mark observes this circumstance of his being in the wilderness--that he was with the wild beasts. It was an instance of his Father's care of him, that he was preserved from being torn in pieces by the wild beasts, which encouraged him the more that his Father would provide for him when he was hungry. Special protections are earnests of seasonable supplies. It was likewise an intimation to him of the inhumanity of the men of that generation, whom he was to live among--no better than wild beasts in the wilderness, nay abundantly worse. In that wilderness,

      1. The evil spirits were busy with him; he was tempted of Satan; not by any inward injections (the prince of this world had nothing in him to fasten upon), but by outward solicitations. Solicitude often gives advantages to the tempter, therefore two are better than one. Christ himself was tempted, not only to teach us, that it is no sin to be tempted, but to direct us whither to go for succour when we are tempted, even to him that suffered, being tempted; that he might experimentally sympathize with us when we are tempted.

      2. The good spirits were busy about him; the angels ministered to him, supplied him with what he needed, and dutifully attended him. Note, The ministration of the good angels about us, is matter of great comfort in reference to the malicious designs of the evil angels against us; but much more doth it befriend us, to have the indwelling of the spirit in our hearts, which they that have, are so born of God, that, as far as they are so, the evil one toucheth them not, much less shall be triumph over them.

10
The Baptism of Jesus.

      9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.   10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:   11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.   12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.   13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

      We have here a brief account of Christ's baptism and temptation, which were largely related Matt. iii. and iv.

      I. His baptism, which was his first public appearance, after he had long lived obscurely in Nazareth. O how much hidden worth is there, which in this world is either lost in the dust of contempt and cannot be known, or wrapped up in the veil of humility and will not be known! But sooner or later it shall be known, as Christ's was.

      1. See how humbly he owned God, by coming to be baptized of John; and thus it became him to fulfil all righteousness. Thus he took upon him the likeness of sinful flesh, that, though he was perfectly pure and unspotted, yet he was washed as if he had been polluted; and thus for our sakes he sanctified himself, that we also might be sanctified, and be baptized with him, John xvii. 19.

      2. See how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John's baptism. Those who justify God, and they are said to do, who were baptized with the baptism of John, he will glorify, Luke vii. 29, 30.

      (1.) He saw the heavens opened; thus he was owned to be the Lord from heaven, and had a glimpse of the glory and joy that were set before him, and secured to him, as the recompence of his undertaking. Matthew saith, The heavens were opened to him. Mark saith, He saw them opened. Many have the heavens opened to receive them, but they do not see it; Christ had not only a clear foresight of his sufferings, but of his glory too.

      (2.) He saw the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. Note, Then we may see heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spirit descending and working upon us. God's good work in us is the surest evidence of his good will towards us, and his preparations for us. Justin Martyr says, that when Christ was baptized, a fire was kindled in Jordan: and it is an ancient tradition, that a great light shone round the place; for the Spirit brings both light and heat.

      (3.) He heard a voice which was intended for his encouragement to proceed in his undertaking, and therefore it is here expressed as directed to him, Thou art my beloved Son. God lets him know, [1.] That he loved him never the less for that low and mean estate to which he had now humbled himself; "Though thus emptied and made of no reputation, yet he is my beloved Son still." [2.] That he loved him much the more for that glorious and kind undertaking in which he had now engaged himself. God is well pleased in him, as referee of all matters in controversy between him and man; and so well pleased in him, as to be well pleased with us in him.

      II. His temptation. The good Spirit that descended upon him, led him into the wilderness, v. 12. Paul mentions it as a proof that he had his doctrine from God, and not from man--that, as soon as he was called, he went not to Jerusalem, but went into Arabia, Gal. i. 17. Retirement from the world is an opportunity of more free converse with God, and therefore must sometimes be chosen, for a while, even by those that are called to the greatest business. Mark observes this circumstance of his being in the wilderness--that he was with the wild beasts. It was an instance of his Father's care of him, that he was preserved from being torn in pieces by the wild beasts, which encouraged him the more that his Father would provide for him when he was hungry. Special protections are earnests of seasonable supplies. It was likewise an intimation to him of the inhumanity of the men of that generation, whom he was to live among--no better than wild beasts in the wilderness, nay abundantly worse. In that wilderness,

      1. The evil spirits were busy with him; he was tempted of Satan; not by any inward injections (the prince of this world had nothing in him to fasten upon), but by outward solicitations. Solicitude often gives advantages to the tempter, therefore two are better than one. Christ himself was tempted, not only to teach us, that it is no sin to be tempted, but to direct us whither to go for succour when we are tempted, even to him that suffered, being tempted; that he might experimentally sympathize with us when we are tempted.

      2. The good spirits were busy about him; the angels ministered to him, supplied him with what he needed, and dutifully attended him. Note, The ministration of the good angels about us, is matter of great comfort in reference to the malicious designs of the evil angels against us; but much more doth it befriend us, to have the indwelling of the spirit in our hearts, which they that have, are so born of God, that, as far as they are so, the evil one toucheth them not, much less shall be triumph over them.

11
The Baptism of Jesus.

      9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.   10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:   11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.   12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.   13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

      We have here a brief account of Christ's baptism and temptation, which were largely related Matt. iii. and iv.

      I. His baptism, which was his first public appearance, after he had long lived obscurely in Nazareth. O how much hidden worth is there, which in this world is either lost in the dust of contempt and cannot be known, or wrapped up in the veil of humility and will not be known! But sooner or later it shall be known, as Christ's was.

      1. See how humbly he owned God, by coming to be baptized of John; and thus it became him to fulfil all righteousness. Thus he took upon him the likeness of sinful flesh, that, though he was perfectly pure and unspotted, yet he was washed as if he had been polluted; and thus for our sakes he sanctified himself, that we also might be sanctified, and be baptized with him, John xvii. 19.

      2. See how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John's baptism. Those who justify God, and they are said to do, who were baptized with the baptism of John, he will glorify, Luke vii. 29, 30.

      (1.) He saw the heavens opened; thus he was owned to be the Lord from heaven, and had a glimpse of the glory and joy that were set before him, and secured to him, as the recompence of his undertaking. Matthew saith, The heavens were opened to him. Mark saith, He saw them opened. Many have the heavens opened to receive them, but they do not see it; Christ had not only a clear foresight of his sufferings, but of his glory too.

      (2.) He saw the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. Note, Then we may see heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spirit descending and working upon us. God's good work in us is the surest evidence of his good will towards us, and his preparations for us. Justin Martyr says, that when Christ was baptized, a fire was kindled in Jordan: and it is an ancient tradition, that a great light shone round the place; for the Spirit brings both light and heat.

      (3.) He heard a voice which was intended for his encouragement to proceed in his undertaking, and therefore it is here expressed as directed to him, Thou art my beloved Son. God lets him know, [1.] That he loved him never the less for that low and mean estate to which he had now humbled himself; "Though thus emptied and made of no reputation, yet he is my beloved Son still." [2.] That he loved him much the more for that glorious and kind undertaking in which he had now engaged himself. God is well pleased in him, as referee of all matters in controversy between him and man; and so well pleased in him, as to be well pleased with us in him.

      II. His temptation. The good Spirit that descended upon him, led him into the wilderness, v. 12. Paul mentions it as a proof that he had his doctrine from God, and not from man--that, as soon as he was called, he went not to Jerusalem, but went into Arabia, Gal. i. 17. Retirement from the world is an opportunity of more free converse with God, and therefore must sometimes be chosen, for a while, even by those that are called to the greatest business. Mark observes this circumstance of his being in the wilderness--that he was with the wild beasts. It was an instance of his Father's care of him, that he was preserved from being torn in pieces by the wild beasts, which encouraged him the more that his Father would provide for him when he was hungry. Special protections are earnests of seasonable supplies. It was likewise an intimation to him of the inhumanity of the men of that generation, whom he was to live among--no better than wild beasts in the wilderness, nay abundantly worse. In that wilderness,

      1. The evil spirits were busy with him; he was tempted of Satan; not by any inward injections (the prince of this world had nothing in him to fasten upon), but by outward solicitations. Solicitude often gives advantages to the tempter, therefore two are better than one. Christ himself was tempted, not only to teach us, that it is no sin to be tempted, but to direct us whither to go for succour when we are tempted, even to him that suffered, being tempted; that he might experimentally sympathize with us when we are tempted.

      2. The good spirits were busy about him; the angels ministered to him, supplied him with what he needed, and dutifully attended him. Note, The ministration of the good angels about us, is matter of great comfort in reference to the malicious designs of the evil angels against us; but much more doth it befriend us, to have the indwelling of the spirit in our hearts, which they that have, are so born of God, that, as far as they are so, the evil one toucheth them not, much less shall be triumph over them.

21
The Genealogy of Christ.

      21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,   22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.   23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,   24 Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph,   25 Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge,   26 Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda,   27 Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri,   28 Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er,   29 Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi,   30 Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim,   31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,   32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson,   33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda,   34 Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor,   35 Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala,   36 Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech,   37 Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan,   38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

      The evangelist mentioned John's imprisonment before Christ's being baptized, though it was nearly a year after it, because he would finish the story of John's ministry, and then introduce that of Christ. Now here we have,

      I. A short account of Christ's baptism, which had been more fully related by St. Matthew. Jesus came, to be baptized of John, and he was so, v. 21, 22.

      1. It is here said that, when all the people were baptized, then Jesus was baptized: all that were then present. Christ would be baptized last, among the common people, and in the rear of them; thus he humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation, as one of the least, nay, as less than the least. He saw what multitudes were hereby prepared to receive him, and then he appeared.

      2. Notice is here taken of Christ's praying when he was baptized, which was not in Matthew: being baptized, and praying. He did not confess sin, as others did, for he had none to confess; but he prayed, as others did, for he would thus keep up communion with his Father. Note, The inward and spiritual grace of which sacraments are the outward and visible signs must be fetched in by prayer; and therefore prayer must always accompany them. We have reason to think that Christ now prayed for this manifestation of God's favour to him which immediately followed; he prayed for the discovery of his Father's favour to him, and the descent of the Spirit. What was promised to Christ, he must obtain by prayer: Ask of me and I will give thee, &c. Thus he would put an honour upon prayer, would tie us to it, and encourage us in it.

      3. When he prayed, the heaven was opened. He that by his power parted the waters, to make a way through them to Canaan, now by his power parted the air, another fluid element, to open a correspondence with the heavenly Canaan. Thus was there opened to Christ, and by him to us, a new and living way into the holiest; sin had shut up heaven, but Christ's prayer opened it again. Prayer is an ordinance that opens heaven: Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

      4. The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him; our Lord Jesus was now to receive greater measures of the Spirit than before, to qualify him for his prophetical office, Isa. lxi. 1. When he begins to preach, the Spirit of the Lord is upon him. Now this is here expressed by a sensible evidence for his encouragement in his work, and for the satisfaction of John the Baptist; for he was told before that by this sign it should be notified to him which was the Christ. Dr. Lightfoot suggests that the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, that he might be revealed to be a personal substance, and not merely an operation of the Godhead: and thus (saith he) was made a full, clear, and sensible demonstration of the Trinity, at the beginning of the gospel; and very fitly is this done at Christ's baptism, who was to make the ordinance of baptism a badge of the profession of that faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

      5. There came a voice from heaven, from God the Father, from the excellent glory (so it is expressed, 2 Pet. i. 17), Thou art my beloved Son. Here, and in Mark, it is expressed as spoken to Christ; in Matthew as spoken of him: This is my beloved Son. It comes all to one; it was intended to be a notification to John, and as such was properly expressed by, This is my beloved Son; and likewise an answer to his prayer, and so it is most fitly expressed by. Thou art. It was foretold concerning the Messiah, I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son, 2 Sam. vii. 14. I will make him my First-born, Ps. lxxxix. 27. It was also foretold that he should be God's elect, in whom his soul delighted (Isa. xlii. 1); and, accordingly, it is here declared, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

      II. A long account of Christ's pedigree, which had been more briefly related by St. Matthew. Here is,

      1. His age: He now began to be about thirty years of age. So old Joseph was when he stood before Pharaoh (Gen. xli. 46), David when he began to reign (2 Sam. v. 4), and at this age the priests were to enter upon the full execution of their office, Num. iv. 3. Dr. Lightfoot thinks that it is plain, by the manner of expression here, that he was just twenty-nine years old complete, and entering upon his thirtieth year, in the month Tisri; that, after this, he lived three years and a half, and died when he was thirty-two years and a half old. Three years and a half, the time of Christ's ministry, is a period of time very remarkable in scripture. Three years and six months the heavens were shut up in Elijah's time, Luke iv. 25; Jam. v. 17. This was the half week in which the Messiah was to confirm the covenant, Dan. ix. 27. This period is expressed in the prophetical writings by a time, times, and half a time (Dan. xii. 7; Rev. xii. 14); and by forty-two months, and a thousand two hundred and threescore days, Rev. xi. 2, 3. It is the time fixed for the witnesses' prophesying in sackcloth, in conformity to Christ's preaching in his humiliation just so long.

      2. His pedigree, v. 23, &c. Matthew had given us somewhat of this. He goes no higher than Abraham, but Luke brings it as high as Adam. Matthew designed to show that Christ was the son of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth are blessed, and that he was heir to the throne of David; and therefore he begins with Abraham, and brings the genealogy down to Jacob, who was the father of Joseph, and heir-male of the house of David: but Luke, designing to show that Christ was the seed of the woman, that should break the serpent's head, traces his pedigree upward as high as Adam, and begins it with Ei, or Heli, who was the father, not of Joseph, but of the virgin Mary. And some suggest that the supply which our translators all along insert here is not right, and that it should not be read which, that is, which Joseph was the son of Heli, but which Jesus; he was the son of Joseph, of Eli, of Matthat, &c., and he, that is, Jesus, was the son of Seth, of Adam, of God, v. 38. The difference between the two evangelists in the genealogy of Christ has been a stumbling-block to infidels that cavil at the word, but such a one as has been removed by the labours of learned men, both in the early ages of the church and in latter times, to which we refer ourselves. Matthew draws the pedigree from Solomon, whose natural line ending in Jechonias, the legal right was transferred to Salathiel, who was of the house of Nathan, another son of David, which line Luke here pursues, and so leaves out all the kings of Judah. It is well for us that our salvation doth not depend upon our being able to solve all these difficulties, nor is the divine authority of the gospels at all weakened by them; for the evangelists are not supposed to write these genealogies either of their own knowledge or by divine inspiration, but to have copied them out of the authentic records of the genealogies among the Jews, the heralds' books, which therefore they were obliged to follow; and in them they found the pedigree of Jacob, the father of Joseph, to be as it is set down in Matthew; and the pedigree of Heli, the father of Mary, to be as it is set down here in Luke. And this is the meaning of hos enomizeto (v. 23), not, as it was supposed, referring only to Joseph, but uti sancitum est lege--as it is entered into the books, as we find it upon record; by which is appeared that Jesus was both by father and mother's side the Son of David, witness this extract out of their own records, which any one might at that time have liberty to compare with the original, and further the evangelists needed not to go; nay, had they varied from that, they had not gained their point. Its not being contradicted at that time is satisfaction enough to us now that it is a true copy, as it is further worthy of observation, that, when those records of the Jewish genealogies had continued thirty or forty years after these extracts out of them, long enough to justify the evangelists therein, they were all lost and destroyed with the Jewish state and nation; for now there was no more occasion for them.

      One difficulty occurs between Abraham and Noah, which gives us some perplexity, v. 35, 36. Sala is said to be the son of Cainan, and he the son of Arphaxad, whereas Sala was the son of Arphaxad (Gen. x. 24; xi. 12), and there is no such man as Cainan found there. But, as to that, it is sufficient to say that the Seventy Interpreters, who, before our Saviour's time, translated the Old Testament into Greek, for reasons best known to themselves inserted that Cainan; and St. Luke, writing among the Hellenist Jews, was obliged to make use of that translation, and therefore to take it as he found it.

      The genealogy concludes with this, who was the son of Adam, the son of God. (1.) Some refer it to Adam; he was in a peculiar manner the son of God, being, more immediately than any of his offspring, the offspring of God by creation. (2.) Others refer it to Christ, and so make the last words of this genealogy to denote his divine and human nature. He was both the Son of Adam and the Son of God that he might be a proper Mediator between God and the sons of Adam, and might bring the sons of Adam to be, through him, the sons of God.

22
The Genealogy of Christ.

      21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,   22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.   23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,   24 Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph,   25 Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge,   26 Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda,   27 Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri,   28 Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er,   29 Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi,   30 Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim,   31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,   32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson,   33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda,   34 Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor,   35 Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala,   36 Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech,   37 Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan,   38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

      The evangelist mentioned John's imprisonment before Christ's being baptized, though it was nearly a year after it, because he would finish the story of John's ministry, and then introduce that of Christ. Now here we have,

      I. A short account of Christ's baptism, which had been more fully related by St. Matthew. Jesus came, to be baptized of John, and he was so, v. 21, 22.

      1. It is here said that, when all the people were baptized, then Jesus was baptized: all that were then present. Christ would be baptized last, among the common people, and in the rear of them; thus he humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation, as one of the least, nay, as less than the least. He saw what multitudes were hereby prepared to receive him, and then he appeared.

      2. Notice is here taken of Christ's praying when he was baptized, which was not in Matthew: being baptized, and praying. He did not confess sin, as others did, for he had none to confess; but he prayed, as others did, for he would thus keep up communion with his Father. Note, The inward and spiritual grace of which sacraments are the outward and visible signs must be fetched in by prayer; and therefore prayer must always accompany them. We have reason to think that Christ now prayed for this manifestation of God's favour to him which immediately followed; he prayed for the discovery of his Father's favour to him, and the descent of the Spirit. What was promised to Christ, he must obtain by prayer: Ask of me and I will give thee, &c. Thus he would put an honour upon prayer, would tie us to it, and encourage us in it.

      3. When he prayed, the heaven was opened. He that by his power parted the waters, to make a way through them to Canaan, now by his power parted the air, another fluid element, to open a correspondence with the heavenly Canaan. Thus was there opened to Christ, and by him to us, a new and living way into the holiest; sin had shut up heaven, but Christ's prayer opened it again. Prayer is an ordinance that opens heaven: Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

      4. The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him; our Lord Jesus was now to receive greater measures of the Spirit than before, to qualify him for his prophetical office, Isa. lxi. 1. When he begins to preach, the Spirit of the Lord is upon him. Now this is here expressed by a sensible evidence for his encouragement in his work, and for the satisfaction of John the Baptist; for he was told before that by this sign it should be notified to him which was the Christ. Dr. Lightfoot suggests that the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, that he might be revealed to be a personal substance, and not merely an operation of the Godhead: and thus (saith he) was made a full, clear, and sensible demonstration of the Trinity, at the beginning of the gospel; and very fitly is this done at Christ's baptism, who was to make the ordinance of baptism a badge of the profession of that faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

      5. There came a voice from heaven, from God the Father, from the excellent glory (so it is expressed, 2 Pet. i. 17), Thou art my beloved Son. Here, and in Mark, it is expressed as spoken to Christ; in Matthew as spoken of him: This is my beloved Son. It comes all to one; it was intended to be a notification to John, and as such was properly expressed by, This is my beloved Son; and likewise an answer to his prayer, and so it is most fitly expressed by. Thou art. It was foretold concerning the Messiah, I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son, 2 Sam. vii. 14. I will make him my First-born, Ps. lxxxix. 27. It was also foretold that he should be God's elect, in whom his soul delighted (Isa. xlii. 1); and, accordingly, it is here declared, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

      II. A long account of Christ's pedigree, which had been more briefly related by St. Matthew. Here is,

      1. His age: He now began to be about thirty years of age. So old Joseph was when he stood before Pharaoh (Gen. xli. 46), David when he began to reign (2 Sam. v. 4), and at this age the priests were to enter upon the full execution of their office, Num. iv. 3. Dr. Lightfoot thinks that it is plain, by the manner of expression here, that he was just twenty-nine years old complete, and entering upon his thirtieth year, in the month Tisri; that, after this, he lived three years and a half, and died when he was thirty-two years and a half old. Three years and a half, the time of Christ's ministry, is a period of time very remarkable in scripture. Three years and six months the heavens were shut up in Elijah's time, Luke iv. 25; Jam. v. 17. This was the half week in which the Messiah was to confirm the covenant, Dan. ix. 27. This period is expressed in the prophetical writings by a time, times, and half a time (Dan. xii. 7; Rev. xii. 14); and by forty-two months, and a thousand two hundred and threescore days, Rev. xi. 2, 3. It is the time fixed for the witnesses' prophesying in sackcloth, in conformity to Christ's preaching in his humiliation just so long.

      2. His pedigree, v. 23, &c. Matthew had given us somewhat of this. He goes no higher than Abraham, but Luke brings it as high as Adam. Matthew designed to show that Christ was the son of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth are blessed, and that he was heir to the throne of David; and therefore he begins with Abraham, and brings the genealogy down to Jacob, who was the father of Joseph, and heir-male of the house of David: but Luke, designing to show that Christ was the seed of the woman, that should break the serpent's head, traces his pedigree upward as high as Adam, and begins it with Ei, or Heli, who was the father, not of Joseph, but of the virgin Mary. And some suggest that the supply which our translators all along insert here is not right, and that it should not be read which, that is, which Joseph was the son of Heli, but which Jesus; he was the son of Joseph, of Eli, of Matthat, &c., and he, that is, Jesus, was the son of Seth, of Adam, of God, v. 38. The difference between the two evangelists in the genealogy of Christ has been a stumbling-block to infidels that cavil at the word, but such a one as has been removed by the labours of learned men, both in the early ages of the church and in latter times, to which we refer ourselves. Matthew draws the pedigree from Solomon, whose natural line ending in Jechonias, the legal right was transferred to Salathiel, who was of the house of Nathan, another son of David, which line Luke here pursues, and so leaves out all the kings of Judah. It is well for us that our salvation doth not depend upon our being able to solve all these difficulties, nor is the divine authority of the gospels at all weakened by them; for the evangelists are not supposed to write these genealogies either of their own knowledge or by divine inspiration, but to have copied them out of the authentic records of the genealogies among the Jews, the heralds' books, which therefore they were obliged to follow; and in them they found the pedigree of Jacob, the father of Joseph, to be as it is set down in Matthew; and the pedigree of Heli, the father of Mary, to be as it is set down here in Luke. And this is the meaning of hos enomizeto (v. 23), not, as it was supposed, referring only to Joseph, but uti sancitum est lege--as it is entered into the books, as we find it upon record; by which is appeared that Jesus was both by father and mother's side the Son of David, witness this extract out of their own records, which any one might at that time have liberty to compare with the original, and further the evangelists needed not to go; nay, had they varied from that, they had not gained their point. Its not being contradicted at that time is satisfaction enough to us now that it is a true copy, as it is further worthy of observation, that, when those records of the Jewish genealogies had continued thirty or forty years after these extracts out of them, long enough to justify the evangelists therein, they were all lost and destroyed with the Jewish state and nation; for now there was no more occasion for them.

      One difficulty occurs between Abraham and Noah, which gives us some perplexity, v. 35, 36. Sala is said to be the son of Cainan, and he the son of Arphaxad, whereas Sala was the son of Arphaxad (Gen. x. 24; xi. 12), and there is no such man as Cainan found there. But, as to that, it is sufficient to say that the Seventy Interpreters, who, before our Saviour's time, translated the Old Testament into Greek, for reasons best known to themselves inserted that Cainan; and St. Luke, writing among the Hellenist Jews, was obliged to make use of that translation, and therefore to take it as he found it.

      The genealogy concludes with this, who was the son of Adam, the son of God. (1.) Some refer it to Adam; he was in a peculiar manner the son of God, being, more immediately than any of his offspring, the offspring of God by creation. (2.) Others refer it to Christ, and so make the last words of this genealogy to denote his divine and human nature. He was both the Son of Adam and the Son of God that he might be a proper Mediator between God and the sons of Adam, and might bring the sons of Adam to be, through him, the sons of God.

32
John's Testimony to Christ.

      29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.   30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.   31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.   32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.   33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.   34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.   35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;   36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

      We have in these verses an account of John's testimony concerning Jesus Christ, which he witnessed to his own disciples that followed him. As soon as ever Christ was baptized he was immediately hurried into the wilderness, to be tempted; and there he was forty days. During his absence John had continued to bear testimony to him, and to tell the people of him; but now at last he sees Jesus coming to him, returning from the wilderness of temptation. As soon as that conflict was over Christ immediately returned to John, who was preaching and baptizing. Now Christ was tempted for example and encouragement to us; and this teaches us, 1. That the hardships of a tempted state should engage us to keep close to ordinances; to go into the sanctuary of God, Ps. lxxiii. 17. Our combats with Satan should oblige us to keep close to the communion of saints: two are better than one. 2. That the honours of a victorious state must not set us above ordinances. Christ had triumphed over Satan, and been attended by angels, and yet, after all, he returns to the place where John was preaching and baptizing. As long as we are on this side heaven, whatever extraordinary visits of divine grace we may have here at any time, we must still keep close to the ordinary means of grace and comfort, and walk with God in them. Now here are two testimonies borne by John to Christ, but those two agree in one.

      I. Here is his testimony to Christ on the first day that he saw him coming from the wilderness; and here four things are witnessed by him concerning Christ, when he had him before his eyes:--

      1. That he is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, v. 29. Let us learn here,

      (1.) That Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, which bespeaks him the great sacrifice, by which atonement is made for sin, and man reconciled to God. Of all the legal sacrifices he chooses to allude to the lambs that were offered, not only because a lamb is an emblem of meekness, and Christ must be led as a lamb to the slaughter (Isa. liii. 7), but with a special reference, [1.] To the daily sacrifice, which was offered every morning and evening continually, and that was always a lamb (Exod. xxix. 38), which was a type of Christ, as the everlasting propitiation, whose blood continually speaks. [2.] To the paschal lamb, the blood of which, being sprinkled upon the door-posts, secured the Israelites from the stroke of the destroying angel. Christ is our passover, 1 Cor. v. 7. He is the Lamb of God; he is appointed by him (Rom. iii. 25), he was devoted to him (ch. xvii. 19), and he was accepted with him; in him he was well pleased. The lot which fell on the goat that was to be offered for a sin-offering was called the Lord's lot (Lev. xvi. 8, 9); so Christ, who was to make atonement for sin, is called the Lamb of God.

      (2.) That Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world. This was his undertaking; he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. ix. 26. John Baptist had called people to repent of their sins, in order to the remission of them. Now here he shows how and by whom that remission was to be expected, what ground of hope we have that our sins shall be pardoned upon our repentance, though our repentance makes no satisfaction for them. This ground of hope we have--Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. [1.] He takes away sin. He, being Mediator between God and man, takes away that which is, above any thing, offensive to the holiness of God, and destructive to the happiness of man. He came, First, To take away the guilt of sin by the merit of his death, to vacate the judgment, and reverse the attainder, which mankind lay under, by an act of indemnity, of which all penitent obedient believers may claim the benefit. Secondly, To take away the power of sin by the Spirit of his grace, so that it shall not have dominion, Rom. vi. 14. Christ, as the Lamb of God, washes us from our sins in his own blood; that is, he both justifies and sanctifies us: he takes away sin. He is ho airon --he is taking away the sin of the world, which denotes it not a single but a continued act; it is his constant work and office to take away sin, which is such a work of time that it will never be completed till time shall be no more. He is always taking away sin, by the continual intercession of his blood in heaven, and the continual influence of his grace on earth. [2.] He takes away the sin of the world; purchases pardon for all those that repent, and believe the gospel, of what country, nation, or language, soever they be. The legal sacrifices had reference only to the sins of Israel, to make atonement for them; but the Lamb of God was offered to be a propitiation for the sin of the whole world; see 1 John ii. 2. This is encouraging to our faith; if Christ takes away the sin of the world, then why not my sin? Christ levelled his force at the main body of sin's army, struck at the root, and aimed at the overthrow, of that wickedness which the whole world lay in. God was in him reconciling the world to himself. [3.] He does this by taking it upon himself. He is the Lamb of God, that bears the sin of the world; so the margin reads it. He bore sin for us, and so bears it from us; he bore the sin of many, as the scape-goat had the sins of Israel put upon his head, Lev. xvi. 21. God could have taken away the sin by taking away the sinner, as he took away the sin of the old world; but he has found out a way of abolishing the sin, and yet sparing the sinner, by making his Son sin for us.

      (3.) That it is our duty, with an eye of faith, to behold the Lamb of God thus taking away the sin of the world. See him taking away sin, and let that increase our hatred of sin, and resolutions against it. Let not us hold that fast which the Lamb of God came to take away: for Christ will either take our sins away or take us away. Let it increase our love to Christ, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, Rev. i. 5. Whatever God is pleased to take away from us, if withal he take away our sins, we have reason to be thankful, and no reason to complain.

      2. That this was he of whom he had spoken before (v. 30, 31): This is he, this person whom I now point at, you see where he stands, this is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man. Observe, (1.) This honour John had above all the prophets, that, whereas they spoke of him as one that should come, he saw him already come. This is he. He sees him now, he sees him nigh, Num. xxiv. 17. Such a difference there is between present faith and future vision. Now we love one whom we have not seen; then we shall see him whom our souls love, shall see him, and say, This is he of whom I said, my Christ, and my all, my beloved, and my friend. (2.) John calls Christ a man; after me comes a man--aner, a strong man: like the man, the branch, or the man of God's right hand. (3.) He refers to what he had himself said of him before: This is he of whom I said. Note, Those who have said the most honourable things of Christ will never see cause to unsay them; but the more they know him the more they are confirmed in their esteem of him. John still thinks as meanly of himself, and as highly of Christ, as ever. Though Christ appeared not in any external pomp or grandeur, yet John is not ashamed to own, This is he whom I meant, who is preferred before me. And it was necessary that John should thus show them the person, otherwise they could not have believed that one who made so mean a figure should be he of whom John had spoken such great things. (4.) He protests against any confederacy or combination with this Jesus: And I knew him not. Though there was some relation between them (Elisabeth was cousin to the virgin Mary), yet there was no acquaintance at all between them; John had no personal knowledge of Jesus till he saw him come to his baptism. Their manner of life had been different: John had spent his time in the wilderness, in solitude; Jesus at Nazareth, in conversation. There was no correspondence, no interview between them, that the matter might appear to be wholly carried on by the direction and disposal of Heaven, and not by any design or concert of the persons themselves. And as he hereby disowns all collusion, so also all partiality and sinister regard in it; he could not be supposed to favour him as a friend, for there was no friendship or familiarity between them. Nay, as he could not be biassed to speak honourably of him because he was a stranger to him, he was not able to say any thing of him but what he received from above, to which he appeals, ch. iii. 27. Note, They who are taught believe and confess one whom they have not seen, and blessed are they who yet have believed. (5.) The great intention of John's ministry and baptism was to introduce Jesus Christ. That he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. Observe, [1.] Though John did not know Jesus by face, yet he knew that he should be made manifest. Note, We may know the certainty of that which yet we do not fully know the nature and intention of. We know that the happiness of heaven shall be made manifest to Israel, but cannot describe it. [2.] The general assurance John had that Christ should be made manifest served to carry him with diligence and resolution through his work, though he was kept in the dark concerning particulars: Therefore am I come. Our assurance of the reality of things, though they are unseen, is enough to quicken us to our duty. [3.] God reveals himself to his people by degrees. At first, John knew no more concerning Christ but that he should be made manifest; in confidence of that, he came baptizing, and now he is favoured with a sight of him. They who, upon God's word, believe what they do not see, shall shortly see what they now believe. [4.] The ministry of the word and sacraments is designed for no other end than to lead people to Christ, and to make him more and more manifest. [5.] Baptism with water made way for the manifesting of Christ, as it supposed our corruption and filthiness, and signified our cleansing by him who is the fountain opened.

      3. That this was he upon whom the Spirit descended from heaven like a dove. For the confirming of his testimony concerning Christ, he here vouches the extraordinary appearance at his baptism, in which God himself bore witness to him. This was a considerable proof of Christ's mission. Now, to assure us of the truth of it, we are here told (v. 32-34),

      (1.) That John Baptist saw it: He bore record; did not relate it as a story, but solemnly attested it, with all the seriousness and solemnity of witness-bearing. He made affidavit of it: I saw the Spirit descending from heaven. John could not see the Spirit, but he saw the dove which was a sign and representation of the Spirit. The Spirit came now upon Christ, both to make him fir for his work and to make him known to the world. Christ was notified, not by the descent of a crown upon him, or by a transfiguration, but by the descent of the Spirit as a dove upon him, to qualify him for his undertaking. Thus the first testimony given to the apostles was by the descent of the Spirit upon them. God's children are made manifest by their graces; their glories are reserved for their future state. Observe, [1.] The spirit descended from heaven, for every good and perfect gift is from above. [2.] He descended like a dove--an emblem of meekness, and mildness, and gentleness, which makes him fit to teach. The dove brought the olive-branch of peace, Gen. viii. 11. [3.] The Spirit that descended upon Christ abode upon him, as was foretold, Isa. xi. 2. The Spirit did not move him at times, as Samson (Judg. xiii. 25), but at all times. The Spirit was given to him without measure; it was his prerogative to have the Spirit always upon him, so that he could at no time be found either unqualified for his work himself or unfurnished for the supply of those that seek to him for his grace.

      (2.) That he was told to expect it, which very much corroborates the proof. It was not John's bare conjecture, that surely he on whom he saw the Spirit descending was the Son of God; but it was an instituted sign given him before, by which he might certainly know it (v. 33): I knew him not. He insists much upon this, that he knew no more of him than other people did, otherwise than by revelation. But he that sent me to baptize gave me this sign, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, the same is he. [1.] See here what sure grounds John went upon in his ministry and baptism, that he might proceed with all imaginable satisfaction. First, He did not run without sending: God sent him to baptize. He had a warrant from heaven for what he did. When a minister's call is clear, his comfort is sure, though his success is not always so. Secondly, He did not run without speeding; for, when he was sent to baptize with water, he was directed to one that should baptize with the Holy Ghost. Under this notion John Baptist was taught to expect Christ, as one who would give that repentance and faith which he called people to, and would carry on and complete that blessed structure of which he was now laying the foundation. Note, It is a great comfort to Christ's ministers, in their administration of the outward signs, that he whose ministers they are can confer the grace signified thereby, and so put life, and soul, and power into their ministrations; can speak to the heart what they speak to the ear, and breathe upon the dry bones to which they prophesy. [2.] See what sure grounds he went upon in his designation of the person of the Messiah. God had before given him a sign, as he did to Samuel concerning Saul: "On whom thou shalt see the Spirit descend, that same is he." This not only prevented any mistakes, but gave him boldness in his testimony. When he had such assurance as this given him, he could speak with assurance. When John was told this before, his expectations could not but be very much raised; and, when the event exactly answered the prediction, his faith could not but be much confirmed: and these things are written that we may believe.

      4. That he is the Son of God. This is the conclusion of John's testimony, that in which all the particulars centre, as the quod erat demonstrandum--the fact to be demonstrated (v. 34): I saw, and bore record, that this is the Son of God. (1.) The truth asserted is, that this is the Son of God. The voice from heaven proclaimed, and John subscribed to it, not only that he should baptize with the Holy Ghost by a divine authority, but that he has a divine nature. This was the peculiar Christian creed, that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt. xvi. 16), and here is the first framing of it. (2.) John's testimony to it: "I saw, and bore record. Not only I now bear record of it, but I did so as soon as I had seen it." Observe, [1.] What he saw he was forward to bear record of, as they, Acts iv. 20: We cannot but speak the things which we have seen. [2.] What he bore record of was what he saw. Christ's witnesses were eye-witnesses, and therefore the more to be credited: they did not speak by hear-say and report, 2 Pet. i. 16.

      II. Here is John's testimony to Christ, the next day after, v. 35, 36. Where observe, 1. He took every opportunity that offered itself to lead people to Christ: John stood looking upon Jesus as he walked. It should seem, John was now retired from the multitude, and was in close conversation with two of his disciples. Note, Ministers should not only in their public preaching, but in their private converse, witness to Christ, and serve his interests. He saw Jesus walking at some distance, yet did not go to him himself, because he would shun every thing that might give the least colour to suspect a combination. He was looking upon Jesus--emblepsas; he looked stedfastly, and fixed his eyes upon him. Those that would lead others to Christ must be diligent and frequent in the contemplation of him themselves. John had seen Christ before, but now looked upon him, 1 John i. 1. 2. He repeated the same testimony which he had given to Christ the day before, though he could have delivered some other great truth concerning him; but thus he would show that he was uniform and constant in his testimony, and consistent with himself. His doctrine was the same in private that it was in public, as Paul's was, Acts xx. 20, 21. It is good to have that repeated which we have heard, Phil. iii. 1. The doctrine of Christ's sacrifice for the taking away of the sin of the world ought especially to be insisted upon by all good ministers: Christ, the Lamb of God, Christ and him crucified. 3. He intended this especially for his two disciples that stood with him; he was willing to turn them over to Christ, for to this end he bore witness to Christ in their hearing that they might leave all to follow him, even that they might leave him. He did not reckon that he lost those disciples who went over from him to Christ, any more than the schoolmaster reckons that scholar lost whom he sends to the university. John gathered disciples, not for himself, but for Christ to prepare them for the Lord, Luke i. 17. So far was he from being jealous of Christ's growing interest, that there was nothing he was more desirous of. Humble generous souls will give others their due praise without fear of diminishing themselves by it. What we have of reputation, as well as of other things, will not be the less for our giving every body his own.

33
John's Testimony to Christ.

      29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.   30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.   31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.   32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.   33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.   34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.   35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;   36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

      We have in these verses an account of John's testimony concerning Jesus Christ, which he witnessed to his own disciples that followed him. As soon as ever Christ was baptized he was immediately hurried into the wilderness, to be tempted; and there he was forty days. During his absence John had continued to bear testimony to him, and to tell the people of him; but now at last he sees Jesus coming to him, returning from the wilderness of temptation. As soon as that conflict was over Christ immediately returned to John, who was preaching and baptizing. Now Christ was tempted for example and encouragement to us; and this teaches us, 1. That the hardships of a tempted state should engage us to keep close to ordinances; to go into the sanctuary of God, Ps. lxxiii. 17. Our combats with Satan should oblige us to keep close to the communion of saints: two are better than one. 2. That the honours of a victorious state must not set us above ordinances. Christ had triumphed over Satan, and been attended by angels, and yet, after all, he returns to the place where John was preaching and baptizing. As long as we are on this side heaven, whatever extraordinary visits of divine grace we may have here at any time, we must still keep close to the ordinary means of grace and comfort, and walk with God in them. Now here are two testimonies borne by John to Christ, but those two agree in one.

      I. Here is his testimony to Christ on the first day that he saw him coming from the wilderness; and here four things are witnessed by him concerning Christ, when he had him before his eyes:--

      1. That he is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, v. 29. Let us learn here,

      (1.) That Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, which bespeaks him the great sacrifice, by which atonement is made for sin, and man reconciled to God. Of all the legal sacrifices he chooses to allude to the lambs that were offered, not only because a lamb is an emblem of meekness, and Christ must be led as a lamb to the slaughter (Isa. liii. 7), but with a special reference, [1.] To the daily sacrifice, which was offered every morning and evening continually, and that was always a lamb (Exod. xxix. 38), which was a type of Christ, as the everlasting propitiation, whose blood continually speaks. [2.] To the paschal lamb, the blood of which, being sprinkled upon the door-posts, secured the Israelites from the stroke of the destroying angel. Christ is our passover, 1 Cor. v. 7. He is the Lamb of God; he is appointed by him (Rom. iii. 25), he was devoted to him (ch. xvii. 19), and he was accepted with him; in him he was well pleased. The lot which fell on the goat that was to be offered for a sin-offering was called the Lord's lot (Lev. xvi. 8, 9); so Christ, who was to make atonement for sin, is called the Lamb of God.

      (2.) That Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world. This was his undertaking; he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. ix. 26. John Baptist had called people to repent of their sins, in order to the remission of them. Now here he shows how and by whom that remission was to be expected, what ground of hope we have that our sins shall be pardoned upon our repentance, though our repentance makes no satisfaction for them. This ground of hope we have--Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. [1.] He takes away sin. He, being Mediator between God and man, takes away that which is, above any thing, offensive to the holiness of God, and destructive to the happiness of man. He came, First, To take away the guilt of sin by the merit of his death, to vacate the judgment, and reverse the attainder, which mankind lay under, by an act of indemnity, of which all penitent obedient believers may claim the benefit. Secondly, To take away the power of sin by the Spirit of his grace, so that it shall not have dominion, Rom. vi. 14. Christ, as the Lamb of God, washes us from our sins in his own blood; that is, he both justifies and sanctifies us: he takes away sin. He is ho airon --he is taking away the sin of the world, which denotes it not a single but a continued act; it is his constant work and office to take away sin, which is such a work of time that it will never be completed till time shall be no more. He is always taking away sin, by the continual intercession of his blood in heaven, and the continual influence of his grace on earth. [2.] He takes away the sin of the world; purchases pardon for all those that repent, and believe the gospel, of what country, nation, or language, soever they be. The legal sacrifices had reference only to the sins of Israel, to make atonement for them; but the Lamb of God was offered to be a propitiation for the sin of the whole world; see 1 John ii. 2. This is encouraging to our faith; if Christ takes away the sin of the world, then why not my sin? Christ levelled his force at the main body of sin's army, struck at the root, and aimed at the overthrow, of that wickedness which the whole world lay in. God was in him reconciling the world to himself. [3.] He does this by taking it upon himself. He is the Lamb of God, that bears the sin of the world; so the margin reads it. He bore sin for us, and so bears it from us; he bore the sin of many, as the scape-goat had the sins of Israel put upon his head, Lev. xvi. 21. God could have taken away the sin by taking away the sinner, as he took away the sin of the old world; but he has found out a way of abolishing the sin, and yet sparing the sinner, by making his Son sin for us.

      (3.) That it is our duty, with an eye of faith, to behold the Lamb of God thus taking away the sin of the world. See him taking away sin, and let that increase our hatred of sin, and resolutions against it. Let not us hold that fast which the Lamb of God came to take away: for Christ will either take our sins away or take us away. Let it increase our love to Christ, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, Rev. i. 5. Whatever God is pleased to take away from us, if withal he take away our sins, we have reason to be thankful, and no reason to complain.

      2. That this was he of whom he had spoken before (v. 30, 31): This is he, this person whom I now point at, you see where he stands, this is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man. Observe, (1.) This honour John had above all the prophets, that, whereas they spoke of him as one that should come, he saw him already come. This is he. He sees him now, he sees him nigh, Num. xxiv. 17. Such a difference there is between present faith and future vision. Now we love one whom we have not seen; then we shall see him whom our souls love, shall see him, and say, This is he of whom I said, my Christ, and my all, my beloved, and my friend. (2.) John calls Christ a man; after me comes a man--aner, a strong man: like the man, the branch, or the man of God's right hand. (3.) He refers to what he had himself said of him before: This is he of whom I said. Note, Those who have said the most honourable things of Christ will never see cause to unsay them; but the more they know him the more they are confirmed in their esteem of him. John still thinks as meanly of himself, and as highly of Christ, as ever. Though Christ appeared not in any external pomp or grandeur, yet John is not ashamed to own, This is he whom I meant, who is preferred before me. And it was necessary that John should thus show them the person, otherwise they could not have believed that one who made so mean a figure should be he of whom John had spoken such great things. (4.) He protests against any confederacy or combination with this Jesus: And I knew him not. Though there was some relation between them (Elisabeth was cousin to the virgin Mary), yet there was no acquaintance at all between them; John had no personal knowledge of Jesus till he saw him come to his baptism. Their manner of life had been different: John had spent his time in the wilderness, in solitude; Jesus at Nazareth, in conversation. There was no correspondence, no interview between them, that the matter might appear to be wholly carried on by the direction and disposal of Heaven, and not by any design or concert of the persons themselves. And as he hereby disowns all collusion, so also all partiality and sinister regard in it; he could not be supposed to favour him as a friend, for there was no friendship or familiarity between them. Nay, as he could not be biassed to speak honourably of him because he was a stranger to him, he was not able to say any thing of him but what he received from above, to which he appeals, ch. iii. 27. Note, They who are taught believe and confess one whom they have not seen, and blessed are they who yet have believed. (5.) The great intention of John's ministry and baptism was to introduce Jesus Christ. That he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. Observe, [1.] Though John did not know Jesus by face, yet he knew that he should be made manifest. Note, We may know the certainty of that which yet we do not fully know the nature and intention of. We know that the happiness of heaven shall be made manifest to Israel, but cannot describe it. [2.] The general assurance John had that Christ should be made manifest served to carry him with diligence and resolution through his work, though he was kept in the dark concerning particulars: Therefore am I come. Our assurance of the reality of things, though they are unseen, is enough to quicken us to our duty. [3.] God reveals himself to his people by degrees. At first, John knew no more concerning Christ but that he should be made manifest; in confidence of that, he came baptizing, and now he is favoured with a sight of him. They who, upon God's word, believe what they do not see, shall shortly see what they now believe. [4.] The ministry of the word and sacraments is designed for no other end than to lead people to Christ, and to make him more and more manifest. [5.] Baptism with water made way for the manifesting of Christ, as it supposed our corruption and filthiness, and signified our cleansing by him who is the fountain opened.

      3. That this was he upon whom the Spirit descended from heaven like a dove. For the confirming of his testimony concerning Christ, he here vouches the extraordinary appearance at his baptism, in which God himself bore witness to him. This was a considerable proof of Christ's mission. Now, to assure us of the truth of it, we are here told (v. 32-34),

      (1.) That John Baptist saw it: He bore record; did not relate it as a story, but solemnly attested it, with all the seriousness and solemnity of witness-bearing. He made affidavit of it: I saw the Spirit descending from heaven. John could not see the Spirit, but he saw the dove which was a sign and representation of the Spirit. The Spirit came now upon Christ, both to make him fir for his work and to make him known to the world. Christ was notified, not by the descent of a crown upon him, or by a transfiguration, but by the descent of the Spirit as a dove upon him, to qualify him for his undertaking. Thus the first testimony given to the apostles was by the descent of the Spirit upon them. God's children are made manifest by their graces; their glories are reserved for their future state. Observe, [1.] The spirit descended from heaven, for every good and perfect gift is from above. [2.] He descended like a dove--an emblem of meekness, and mildness, and gentleness, which makes him fit to teach. The dove brought the olive-branch of peace, Gen. viii. 11. [3.] The Spirit that descended upon Christ abode upon him, as was foretold, Isa. xi. 2. The Spirit did not move him at times, as Samson (Judg. xiii. 25), but at all times. The Spirit was given to him without measure; it was his prerogative to have the Spirit always upon him, so that he could at no time be found either unqualified for his work himself or unfurnished for the supply of those that seek to him for his grace.

      (2.) That he was told to expect it, which very much corroborates the proof. It was not John's bare conjecture, that surely he on whom he saw the Spirit descending was the Son of God; but it was an instituted sign given him before, by which he might certainly know it (v. 33): I knew him not. He insists much upon this, that he knew no more of him than other people did, otherwise than by revelation. But he that sent me to baptize gave me this sign, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, the same is he. [1.] See here what sure grounds John went upon in his ministry and baptism, that he might proceed with all imaginable satisfaction. First, He did not run without sending: God sent him to baptize. He had a warrant from heaven for what he did. When a minister's call is clear, his comfort is sure, though his success is not always so. Secondly, He did not run without speeding; for, when he was sent to baptize with water, he was directed to one that should baptize with the Holy Ghost. Under this notion John Baptist was taught to expect Christ, as one who would give that repentance and faith which he called people to, and would carry on and complete that blessed structure of which he was now laying the foundation. Note, It is a great comfort to Christ's ministers, in their administration of the outward signs, that he whose ministers they are can confer the grace signified thereby, and so put life, and soul, and power into their ministrations; can speak to the heart what they speak to the ear, and breathe upon the dry bones to which they prophesy. [2.] See what sure grounds he went upon in his designation of the person of the Messiah. God had before given him a sign, as he did to Samuel concerning Saul: "On whom thou shalt see the Spirit descend, that same is he." This not only prevented any mistakes, but gave him boldness in his testimony. When he had such assurance as this given him, he could speak with assurance. When John was told this before, his expectations could not but be very much raised; and, when the event exactly answered the prediction, his faith could not but be much confirmed: and these things are written that we may believe.

      4. That he is the Son of God. This is the conclusion of John's testimony, that in which all the particulars centre, as the quod erat demonstrandum--the fact to be demonstrated (v. 34): I saw, and bore record, that this is the Son of God. (1.) The truth asserted is, that this is the Son of God. The voice from heaven proclaimed, and John subscribed to it, not only that he should baptize with the Holy Ghost by a divine authority, but that he has a divine nature. This was the peculiar Christian creed, that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt. xvi. 16), and here is the first framing of it. (2.) John's testimony to it: "I saw, and bore record. Not only I now bear record of it, but I did so as soon as I had seen it." Observe, [1.] What he saw he was forward to bear record of, as they, Acts iv. 20: We cannot but speak the things which we have seen. [2.] What he bore record of was what he saw. Christ's witnesses were eye-witnesses, and therefore the more to be credited: they did not speak by hear-say and report, 2 Pet. i. 16.

      II. Here is John's testimony to Christ, the next day after, v. 35, 36. Where observe, 1. He took every opportunity that offered itself to lead people to Christ: John stood looking upon Jesus as he walked. It should seem, John was now retired from the multitude, and was in close conversation with two of his disciples. Note, Ministers should not only in their public preaching, but in their private converse, witness to Christ, and serve his interests. He saw Jesus walking at some distance, yet did not go to him himself, because he would shun every thing that might give the least colour to suspect a combination. He was looking upon Jesus--emblepsas; he looked stedfastly, and fixed his eyes upon him. Those that would lead others to Christ must be diligent and frequent in the contemplation of him themselves. John had seen Christ before, but now looked upon him, 1 John i. 1. 2. He repeated the same testimony which he had given to Christ the day before, though he could have delivered some other great truth concerning him; but thus he would show that he was uniform and constant in his testimony, and consistent with himself. His doctrine was the same in private that it was in public, as Paul's was, Acts xx. 20, 21. It is good to have that repeated which we have heard, Phil. iii. 1. The doctrine of Christ's sacrifice for the taking away of the sin of the world ought especially to be insisted upon by all good ministers: Christ, the Lamb of God, Christ and him crucified. 3. He intended this especially for his two disciples that stood with him; he was willing to turn them over to Christ, for to this end he bore witness to Christ in their hearing that they might leave all to follow him, even that they might leave him. He did not reckon that he lost those disciples who went over from him to Christ, any more than the schoolmaster reckons that scholar lost whom he sends to the university. John gathered disciples, not for himself, but for Christ to prepare them for the Lord, Luke i. 17. So far was he from being jealous of Christ's growing interest, that there was nothing he was more desirous of. Humble generous souls will give others their due praise without fear of diminishing themselves by it. What we have of reputation, as well as of other things, will not be the less for our giving every body his own.

34
John's Testimony to Christ.

      29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.   30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.   31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.   32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.   33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.   34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.   35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;   36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

      We have in these verses an account of John's testimony concerning Jesus Christ, which he witnessed to his own disciples that followed him. As soon as ever Christ was baptized he was immediately hurried into the wilderness, to be tempted; and there he was forty days. During his absence John had continued to bear testimony to him, and to tell the people of him; but now at last he sees Jesus coming to him, returning from the wilderness of temptation. As soon as that conflict was over Christ immediately returned to John, who was preaching and baptizing. Now Christ was tempted for example and encouragement to us; and this teaches us, 1. That the hardships of a tempted state should engage us to keep close to ordinances; to go into the sanctuary of God, Ps. lxxiii. 17. Our combats with Satan should oblige us to keep close to the communion of saints: two are better than one. 2. That the honours of a victorious state must not set us above ordinances. Christ had triumphed over Satan, and been attended by angels, and yet, after all, he returns to the place where John was preaching and baptizing. As long as we are on this side heaven, whatever extraordinary visits of divine grace we may have here at any time, we must still keep close to the ordinary means of grace and comfort, and walk with God in them. Now here are two testimonies borne by John to Christ, but those two agree in one.

      I. Here is his testimony to Christ on the first day that he saw him coming from the wilderness; and here four things are witnessed by him concerning Christ, when he had him before his eyes:--

      1. That he is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, v. 29. Let us learn here,

      (1.) That Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, which bespeaks him the great sacrifice, by which atonement is made for sin, and man reconciled to God. Of all the legal sacrifices he chooses to allude to the lambs that were offered, not only because a lamb is an emblem of meekness, and Christ must be led as a lamb to the slaughter (Isa. liii. 7), but with a special reference, [1.] To the daily sacrifice, which was offered every morning and evening continually, and that was always a lamb (Exod. xxix. 38), which was a type of Christ, as the everlasting propitiation, whose blood continually speaks. [2.] To the paschal lamb, the blood of which, being sprinkled upon the door-posts, secured the Israelites from the stroke of the destroying angel. Christ is our passover, 1 Cor. v. 7. He is the Lamb of God; he is appointed by him (Rom. iii. 25), he was devoted to him (ch. xvii. 19), and he was accepted with him; in him he was well pleased. The lot which fell on the goat that was to be offered for a sin-offering was called the Lord's lot (Lev. xvi. 8, 9); so Christ, who was to make atonement for sin, is called the Lamb of God.

      (2.) That Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world. This was his undertaking; he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. ix. 26. John Baptist had called people to repent of their sins, in order to the remission of them. Now here he shows how and by whom that remission was to be expected, what ground of hope we have that our sins shall be pardoned upon our repentance, though our repentance makes no satisfaction for them. This ground of hope we have--Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. [1.] He takes away sin. He, being Mediator between God and man, takes away that which is, above any thing, offensive to the holiness of God, and destructive to the happiness of man. He came, First, To take away the guilt of sin by the merit of his death, to vacate the judgment, and reverse the attainder, which mankind lay under, by an act of indemnity, of which all penitent obedient believers may claim the benefit. Secondly, To take away the power of sin by the Spirit of his grace, so that it shall not have dominion, Rom. vi. 14. Christ, as the Lamb of God, washes us from our sins in his own blood; that is, he both justifies and sanctifies us: he takes away sin. He is ho airon --he is taking away the sin of the world, which denotes it not a single but a continued act; it is his constant work and office to take away sin, which is such a work of time that it will never be completed till time shall be no more. He is always taking away sin, by the continual intercession of his blood in heaven, and the continual influence of his grace on earth. [2.] He takes away the sin of the world; purchases pardon for all those that repent, and believe the gospel, of what country, nation, or language, soever they be. The legal sacrifices had reference only to the sins of Israel, to make atonement for them; but the Lamb of God was offered to be a propitiation for the sin of the whole world; see 1 John ii. 2. This is encouraging to our faith; if Christ takes away the sin of the world, then why not my sin? Christ levelled his force at the main body of sin's army, struck at the root, and aimed at the overthrow, of that wickedness which the whole world lay in. God was in him reconciling the world to himself. [3.] He does this by taking it upon himself. He is the Lamb of God, that bears the sin of the world; so the margin reads it. He bore sin for us, and so bears it from us; he bore the sin of many, as the scape-goat had the sins of Israel put upon his head, Lev. xvi. 21. God could have taken away the sin by taking away the sinner, as he took away the sin of the old world; but he has found out a way of abolishing the sin, and yet sparing the sinner, by making his Son sin for us.

      (3.) That it is our duty, with an eye of faith, to behold the Lamb of God thus taking away the sin of the world. See him taking away sin, and let that increase our hatred of sin, and resolutions against it. Let not us hold that fast which the Lamb of God came to take away: for Christ will either take our sins away or take us away. Let it increase our love to Christ, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, Rev. i. 5. Whatever God is pleased to take away from us, if withal he take away our sins, we have reason to be thankful, and no reason to complain.

      2. That this was he of whom he had spoken before (v. 30, 31): This is he, this person whom I now point at, you see where he stands, this is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man. Observe, (1.) This honour John had above all the prophets, that, whereas they spoke of him as one that should come, he saw him already come. This is he. He sees him now, he sees him nigh, Num. xxiv. 17. Such a difference there is between present faith and future vision. Now we love one whom we have not seen; then we shall see him whom our souls love, shall see him, and say, This is he of whom I said, my Christ, and my all, my beloved, and my friend. (2.) John calls Christ a man; after me comes a man--aner, a strong man: like the man, the branch, or the man of God's right hand. (3.) He refers to what he had himself said of him before: This is he of whom I said. Note, Those who have said the most honourable things of Christ will never see cause to unsay them; but the more they know him the more they are confirmed in their esteem of him. John still thinks as meanly of himself, and as highly of Christ, as ever. Though Christ appeared not in any external pomp or grandeur, yet John is not ashamed to own, This is he whom I meant, who is preferred before me. And it was necessary that John should thus show them the person, otherwise they could not have believed that one who made so mean a figure should be he of whom John had spoken such great things. (4.) He protests against any confederacy or combination with this Jesus: And I knew him not. Though there was some relation between them (Elisabeth was cousin to the virgin Mary), yet there was no acquaintance at all between them; John had no personal knowledge of Jesus till he saw him come to his baptism. Their manner of life had been different: John had spent his time in the wilderness, in solitude; Jesus at Nazareth, in conversation. There was no correspondence, no interview between them, that the matter might appear to be wholly carried on by the direction and disposal of Heaven, and not by any design or concert of the persons themselves. And as he hereby disowns all collusion, so also all partiality and sinister regard in it; he could not be supposed to favour him as a friend, for there was no friendship or familiarity between them. Nay, as he could not be biassed to speak honourably of him because he was a stranger to him, he was not able to say any thing of him but what he received from above, to which he appeals, ch. iii. 27. Note, They who are taught believe and confess one whom they have not seen, and blessed are they who yet have believed. (5.) The great intention of John's ministry and baptism was to introduce Jesus Christ. That he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. Observe, [1.] Though John did not know Jesus by face, yet he knew that he should be made manifest. Note, We may know the certainty of that which yet we do not fully know the nature and intention of. We know that the happiness of heaven shall be made manifest to Israel, but cannot describe it. [2.] The general assurance John had that Christ should be made manifest served to carry him with diligence and resolution through his work, though he was kept in the dark concerning particulars: Therefore am I come. Our assurance of the reality of things, though they are unseen, is enough to quicken us to our duty. [3.] God reveals himself to his people by degrees. At first, John knew no more concerning Christ but that he should be made manifest; in confidence of that, he came baptizing, and now he is favoured with a sight of him. They who, upon God's word, believe what they do not see, shall shortly see what they now believe. [4.] The ministry of the word and sacraments is designed for no other end than to lead people to Christ, and to make him more and more manifest. [5.] Baptism with water made way for the manifesting of Christ, as it supposed our corruption and filthiness, and signified our cleansing by him who is the fountain opened.

      3. That this was he upon whom the Spirit descended from heaven like a dove. For the confirming of his testimony concerning Christ, he here vouches the extraordinary appearance at his baptism, in which God himself bore witness to him. This was a considerable proof of Christ's mission. Now, to assure us of the truth of it, we are here told (v. 32-34),

      (1.) That John Baptist saw it: He bore record; did not relate it as a story, but solemnly attested it, with all the seriousness and solemnity of witness-bearing. He made affidavit of it: I saw the Spirit descending from heaven. John could not see the Spirit, but he saw the dove which was a sign and representation of the Spirit. The Spirit came now upon Christ, both to make him fir for his work and to make him known to the world. Christ was notified, not by the descent of a crown upon him, or by a transfiguration, but by the descent of the Spirit as a dove upon him, to qualify him for his undertaking. Thus the first testimony given to the apostles was by the descent of the Spirit upon them. God's children are made manifest by their graces; their glories are reserved for their future state. Observe, [1.] The spirit descended from heaven, for every good and perfect gift is from above. [2.] He descended like a dove--an emblem of meekness, and mildness, and gentleness, which makes him fit to teach. The dove brought the olive-branch of peace, Gen. viii. 11. [3.] The Spirit that descended upon Christ abode upon him, as was foretold, Isa. xi. 2. The Spirit did not move him at times, as Samson (Judg. xiii. 25), but at all times. The Spirit was given to him without measure; it was his prerogative to have the Spirit always upon him, so that he could at no time be found either unqualified for his work himself or unfurnished for the supply of those that seek to him for his grace.

      (2.) That he was told to expect it, which very much corroborates the proof. It was not John's bare conjecture, that surely he on whom he saw the Spirit descending was the Son of God; but it was an instituted sign given him before, by which he might certainly know it (v. 33): I knew him not. He insists much upon this, that he knew no more of him than other people did, otherwise than by revelation. But he that sent me to baptize gave me this sign, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, the same is he. [1.] See here what sure grounds John went upon in his ministry and baptism, that he might proceed with all imaginable satisfaction. First, He did not run without sending: God sent him to baptize. He had a warrant from heaven for what he did. When a minister's call is clear, his comfort is sure, though his success is not always so. Secondly, He did not run without speeding; for, when he was sent to baptize with water, he was directed to one that should baptize with the Holy Ghost. Under this notion John Baptist was taught to expect Christ, as one who would give that repentance and faith which he called people to, and would carry on and complete that blessed structure of which he was now laying the foundation. Note, It is a great comfort to Christ's ministers, in their administration of the outward signs, that he whose ministers they are can confer the grace signified thereby, and so put life, and soul, and power into their ministrations; can speak to the heart what they speak to the ear, and breathe upon the dry bones to which they prophesy. [2.] See what sure grounds he went upon in his designation of the person of the Messiah. God had before given him a sign, as he did to Samuel concerning Saul: "On whom thou shalt see the Spirit descend, that same is he." This not only prevented any mistakes, but gave him boldness in his testimony. When he had such assurance as this given him, he could speak with assurance. When John was told this before, his expectations could not but be very much raised; and, when the event exactly answered the prediction, his faith could not but be much confirmed: and these things are written that we may believe.

      4. That he is the Son of God. This is the conclusion of John's testimony, that in which all the particulars centre, as the quod erat demonstrandum--the fact to be demonstrated (v. 34): I saw, and bore record, that this is the Son of God. (1.) The truth asserted is, that this is the Son of God. The voice from heaven proclaimed, and John subscribed to it, not only that he should baptize with the Holy Ghost by a divine authority, but that he has a divine nature. This was the peculiar Christian creed, that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt. xvi. 16), and here is the first framing of it. (2.) John's testimony to it: "I saw, and bore record. Not only I now bear record of it, but I did so as soon as I had seen it." Observe, [1.] What he saw he was forward to bear record of, as they, Acts iv. 20: We cannot but speak the things which we have seen. [2.] What he bore record of was what he saw. Christ's witnesses were eye-witnesses, and therefore the more to be credited: they did not speak by hear-say and report, 2 Pet. i. 16.

      II. Here is John's testimony to Christ, the next day after, v. 35, 36. Where observe, 1. He took every opportunity that offered itself to lead people to Christ: John stood looking upon Jesus as he walked. It should seem, John was now retired from the multitude, and was in close conversation with two of his disciples. Note, Ministers should not only in their public preaching, but in their private converse, witness to Christ, and serve his interests. He saw Jesus walking at some distance, yet did not go to him himself, because he would shun every thing that might give the least colour to suspect a combination. He was looking upon Jesus--emblepsas; he looked stedfastly, and fixed his eyes upon him. Those that would lead others to Christ must be diligent and frequent in the contemplation of him themselves. John had seen Christ before, but now looked upon him, 1 John i. 1. 2. He repeated the same testimony which he had given to Christ the day before, though he could have delivered some other great truth concerning him; but thus he would show that he was uniform and constant in his testimony, and consistent with himself. His doctrine was the same in private that it was in public, as Paul's was, Acts xx. 20, 21. It is good to have that repeated which we have heard, Phil. iii. 1. The doctrine of Christ's sacrifice for the taking away of the sin of the world ought especially to be insisted upon by all good ministers: Christ, the Lamb of God, Christ and him crucified. 3. He intended this especially for his two disciples that stood with him; he was willing to turn them over to Christ, for to this end he bore witness to Christ in their hearing that they might leave all to follow him, even that they might leave him. He did not reckon that he lost those disciples who went over from him to Christ, any more than the schoolmaster reckons that scholar lost whom he sends to the university. John gathered disciples, not for himself, but for Christ to prepare them for the Lord, Luke i. 17. So far was he from being jealous of Christ's growing interest, that there was nothing he was more desirous of. Humble generous souls will give others their due praise without fear of diminishing themselves by it. What we have of reputation, as well as of other things, will not be the less for our giving every body his own.