The River

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Sun, Feb 25, 2018

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” - A.W. Tozer

Teacher: Seth Bazacas Series: Defining Moments Scripture: Matthew 3:11-17

Study Notes

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” - A.W. Tozer

What we think about God matters: it has a profound impact on who we are, and how we live our lives. We are going to take the source material we have on Jesus - primarily the Gospels, the most historically accurate and inspired texts we have on Christ - and we are going to look at key defining moments in Jesus's life and ministry. We will highlight these defining moments as a way of connecting the dots across the new testament to help us form a picture of who Jesus is and what he has done.

The River

"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’
Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”
-Matthew 3:11-17

This story has something to say, both about the truth and symbolism around the great story of god and his rescue mission, and also, reveals to us deeper insight into the spirit, and the heart of god.


  • John’s baptism was a baptism of confession of sin and repentance - which is not baptism as we fully understand it today which focuses on redemption and new life.
    It was reminiscent of several cleansing rituals of the day; it represented the NEED for people to be MADE CLEAN…
  • Jesus came to make a statement, to identify himself here as that servant who would come to bear all of our sins - so that we could be accounted righteous.
  • Jesus is taking on the role here as the public representative for all sinners.
  • What Jesus is talking about here is his ultimate baptism, which will take place at the cross.

Moving Toward Pain

  • We believe in a God that moves toward human pain. We serve a God that moves toward pain and moves toward us - even though we are flawed and broken humans. 
  • We aim to stand with those who are hurting.
  • We seek to find freedom for people who are stuck in cycles of spiritual and literal poverty and brokenness
  • We desire to walk with them as they find full life and healing and forgiveness and redemption in Jesus.


  • Something earth-shattering is happening here. This event is one of the few occasions where heaven is ripped open. It is like we get a window into the heavenly realms here as Jesus, through baptism, begins the process of repairing what was broken and restoring his creation back to himself.
  • What we see take place here is a picture of the true heart of God coming down from heaven saying something very different, he says, “I'm so proud of you… I love you… I am pleased with you!” to Jesus. He calls out his identity… and it is beautiful.
  • The dove is a symbol of the new creation of new life. So, when people see this imagery, this dove descending upon Jesus, it sets him apart as the one that will bring about new creation, and a whole new way of being human. This is because the Spirit is there, - and where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
  •  The Spirit came to Jesus, as the Spirit also comes to us. He comes to help, to minister, to comfort, to strengthen, to give gifts, to fill with power.

Defining Moment: At the River

  • It is here that we see the affirmation of God the Father - heaven opening up and the grand rescue mission of God taking off.
  • Rember that through every aspect of life, God is moving toward you.
  • A beautiful truth that is revealed to us in this story.  The image of God revealed through the suffering servant should shape and form our understanding of God and ourselves - so that we may have freedom!