DID JESUS NEED TO REPENT?
BY: JONATHAN MITCHELL
In Mt. 3:11, John the Baptist publicly proclaimed that he was baptizing folks “with water, unto repentance” (KJV). In my article, What Do You Mean, “Repent”?, I point out that this was a corporate call for people to change their minds about their expectations for the coming of the Messiah, and to change their way to thinking, since “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (vs. 3) and everything was about to change.
So, did Jesus need to change His mind and way of thinking? I suggest that the answer is, “Yes.” He was born under the Law and lived under the Law. But He now needed to see Himself as the One that was to bring the kingdom close enough for people to touch – or, to be “at hand,” and accessible to them.
Furthermore, He needed to change His thinking from that of being an individual that had been under the child-escort of the Law to that of being God’s Son, the Anointed one that would deliver His people, and humanity, from the human predicament: dead in trespasses and sins; in slavery to the Law; lost and destroyed (cf Gal. 4:1-5).
He was to be the Messiah, the new Moses that would liberate His people, the Head of the Second Humanity, the last (or: eschatos) Adam. The Spirit of the Lord was now upon Him (Lu. 4:18-21). In preparation for this He, in following the pattern of Israel being delivered from Egypt and being baptized unto Moses first in the Red Sea, and then in the Cloud of Yahweh’s presence (1 Cor. 10:1-4), Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River where He was anointed by the Spirit and then immediately impelled by this same Spirit into the desert (or: wilderness) to be tested for 40 days (corresponding to the 40 years that Israel was in the desert, prior to entering into the promise).
I suggest that Jesus was subjected to tests that represented human desires and the expectations that His people held: food and provision (like the manna from heaven, the water from the rock, health and “sandals that did not wear out”) as their ancestors had experienced; a Messiah that would rule all the kingdoms of the world (a greater “David” on Israel’s throne); demonstrations of the miraculous (like Moses and the Elijah). We are told that He was tested in all points, just as we are (Heb. 1:17-18; 4:15).
He too needed to change His thinking away from the Law, from Israel‘s human expectations, and to focus on the will of the Father – the leading of the Spirit. He was now Israel‘s (and humanity’s) Man, the Forerunner (Heb. 6:20) that would lead Israel and humanity behind the veil. (Heb. 10:19-22) He would become the Priest-King of the order of Melchizedek, who recalled the time of the giving of the promise to Abraham – before the creating of Israel as a separated nation. His stepping into the Jordan would open the way for people to cross over into the promises of God. (Josh. 3:14-17)
Just as the life of Israel changed when they left the wilderness and crossed into the promised land, so would the life of Israel (as well as all of humanity) change again with the coming of the Promise of, and which is, the Father (Lu. 24:49).
Now both Jew and Gentile must change their thinking, having the mind of Christ now available (1 Cor. 2:16) and now being one new humanity (Eph. 2:10-22).
When Jesus was baptized by John, “the heavens were opened back up again” (Mt. 3:16). They had been closed to humanity, but Jesus was now in the process of entering back into the Garden – and He would open the Way for us, past the cherubim (Gen. 3:24) that were embroidered into the veil (entrance) of the holy of holies (a figure of the Garden, within Eden, or Paradise – figured by the temple complex).
I have followed the MS readings that omit “to Him” in vs. 16 (as do, e.g., the NASB, NIV, Nyland), because of the form of the verb. It is the verb “opened” that has a prefix added “ano” which means “back; up; again.” I conflated these meaning, above, to give the full meaning of what was happening with the Spirit descending and coming upon Him. Things were beginning to change.
The biggest change of thinking for Jesus, I suggest, was doing what He saw the Father presently doing – instead of simply following the Law. This needs to be the change of thinking for all people, as well. Those who are continuously led in the Breath-effect, and by the Spirit, are God’s sons. This involved a change in the thinking of Jesus, and so it also does in the thinking of His brothers.
DID JESUS NEED to REPENT [Jonathan Mitchell] 1