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God's Testimony

November 12, 2017 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Guidance / Holy Spirit Verse: Luke 3:21–3:22


Luke 3:21-22

Theme: Of all the testimonies concerning Jesus, God’s is the most glorious.

 Introduction: The testimony of 2-3 witnesses settles a matter as credible evidence; because the testimony of one is typically not sufficient – it needs corroboration.

I. It Was an Answer to Christ’s Righteousness – 3:21

A. The Expectation of Obedience

  • In our text Luke is bringing his account of John’s ministry to a close and transitioning to the focus on the greater character of the Messiah Himself.
  • John’s ministry ends in about six months after the baptism of Jesus – culminating with his arrest and execution at the hands of Herod and Herodias.
  • John was preaching the Word of God given him by God to call men to repentance and a testimony of a commitment to obedience through baptism – cp. John 1:6-8, 33
  • God clearly willed that men would repent and be baptized – refusal to do so would be a rejection of God and His Word delivered through the prophet John.
  • We are told that the watershed of righteousness was the willingness to submit to God and His Word and give the testimony of a commitment to living in subjection to the Lord – “Now when all the people were baptized …”
  • Here we must recognize the qualification of the term “all” [] – which is an inclusive term referring to every member of the “set.”
  • “… all the people” refers exclusively to those who responded positively with the desire for true righteousness – and excludes “any” who refused to repent and who rejected the command of God’s Word – cp. Luke 7:30.
  • Hence, the expectation is that anyone who is truly committed to righteousness and obedience to the command of God will be baptized. 

B. The Example of Obedience

  • Therefore, “Jesus was also baptized …”
  • The other Gospel writers provide greater detail on this event – even including the resistance by John to the prospect of baptizing Jesus – cp. Matthew 3:13-15
  • John was aware that Jesus did not need to repent of sin – being sinless; and, that being baptized would cause others to conclude that Jesus was somehow sinful.
  • Yet Jesus had the opposite perspective – that His being baptized was essential to the fulfillment of righteousness:
  1. God commanded John to baptize all who desired to express their commitment to a “newness of life” associated with true repentance – that they are directed now in the direction of God.
  2. Jesus realized that “whatever God required the righteous to do, Jesus did it – even things He did not need to do.”[19]       
  • His fulfillment of “all righteousness” is essential to His mission of perfection and fulfillment of the Law on our behalf – cp. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 10:3-4; Philippians 3:9  
  • His example of righteousness is furthered by Luke saying that “He was praying …” – a reference to His constant, unhindered fellowship with the Father.
  • Unlike any other person who has ever lived, Jesus demonstrated the “practice of the presence of God” in every situation He experienced; He included the Father in His awareness at all times.


  • Why was it important for Jesus to be baptized? What relevance is there to your own decision re: baptism?
  • Have you thought lately about how God responds to a believers’ obedience? What impact ought this to have on our consistency?
  • What can you learn from Jesus’ example of praying during His baptism?

II. It Was an Affirmation by the Holy Spirit – 3:22a

A. The Manifestation of the Spirit

  • We are told that “heaven was opened” [ἀνοίγω] – when this phrase is used in Scripture, it is a reference to a celestial sign of the heavens exposing or revealing something about God.  
  • In this text, it is a reference to the revealing of both the Holy Spirit and God the Father (voice) as they affirm Jesus as the Messiah, God sent from Heaven.
  • Luke describes the scene as the Holy Spirit descends from Heaven to demonstrate God’s blessing upon Jesus.
  • This does NOT mean that Jesus did not have the Holy Spirit before this event.
  • It was a symbolic event, demonstrating in a public, observable manner the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for Jesus’ life and ministry.
  • The description of the Holy Spirit being “in bodily form like a dove” does not mean that He was a dove, but the movement was comparable to a dove – likely a small, graceful, white object or light that came and “landed” upon Christ – probably disappearing upon lighting upon Him.
  • “The visible reality of the Spirit’s presence indicates His approval of and involvement in the Son’s ministry.”[20]

B. The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

  • When Jesus was incarnated, He “emptied Himself” of any of the glory that He possessed as the Son of God and became obedient – living as you and I must -  Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 2:14
  • This was anticipated by the Old Testament prophecies – cp. Isaiah 11:1-2
  • No miracles, supernatural signs, or any other indication that Jesus was “different” existed prior to the Holy Spirit’s anointing of Jesus at the baptism – Jesus was “normal” (yet without sin – including any ostentation of perfection).
  • Jesus surrendered the use of His divine attributes and became dependent upon the Holy Spirit to empower Him to perform the signs & wonders that served as an indication of who Jesus truly was.
  • Once the Spirit descended upon Him, Jesus performed His miracles through the Spirit’s power, causing Jesus to declare that the criticism of Jesus’ deeds as being from “Beelzebub” was actually blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – Matthew 12:31-32


  • How does the symbolism of the Spirit descending upon Christ apply to the daily role of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
  • How dependent are we on the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the purposes of God in our lives?
  • What practical differences would exist in your life if the Holy Spirit were to be absent (or quenched)?

III. It Was an Announcement by the Father – 3:22b

A. The Announcement of Jesus’ Identity

  • Not only did the Holy Spirit descend from heaven in a manner comparable in grace and appearance to a dove, we are told that “… a voice came out of heaven …”
  • This was an audible expression heard by all who were present – it was designed to be a public declaration as to the identity of Jesus – that He was the Son of God.
  • God the Father declares: “You are My beloved Son …”
  • The point of God’s statement is the affirmation that Jesus as His Son is of the same essence as Himself – cp. Psalm 2:7; Colossians 2:9
  • This is something that God did on another occasion as Jesus was being prepared for His suffering, God affirms Him on the Mt. of Transfiguration – cp. Matthew 17:5.
  • The phrase “beloved Son” is used also of the majesty that Jesus possesses as the King – cp. Colossians 1:13.

B. The Announcement of Jesus’ Impeccability

  • The point of this entire text is the ability of the Father to testify about Jesus’ suitability as the Messiah – both in His identity and his impeccability (sinlessness).
  • God declares: “… in You I am well-pleased.”
  • If Jesus were not sinless, God would not have been able to say this – cp. Habakkuk 1:13
  • This sinlessness was essential to Jesus’ ability to offer Himself as a substitute to pay the price for our sin – His absence of sin together with the presence of absolute righteousness serves as the basis for our salvation – Romans 3:22; 5:17; 1 Corinthians 1:30.
  • What greater testimony could we desire that what God has provided – cp. 1 John 5:9-12.


  • What hope do we possess of gaining the “good pleasure” of the Father?
  • How does Jesus’ baptism impact the Father looking upon us as “pleasing” to Him?
  • Meditate on the significance and solution to Habakkuk 1:13 to our relationship with God.


[19] MacArthur, p. 237.

[20] MacArthur, p. 240