Jesus presents Himself for baptism. It is His floor which is going to be purged; the granary is His; it is He who burns the chaff in the judgment. But He comes to place Himself in the midst of His people. Nothing more striking than this juxtaposition; nothing more positive than the declaration that He is Jehovah; nothing clearer than the fact that He places Himself in the midst of His people in the path where grace conducts them. Assuredly He does not join Himself with the rebellious and intractable people, but from the first step taken by those who by grace listen to the word of the testimony of God, from the first step in the good way, He is found with them in His infinite grace. The heart answers at once to the testimony of John, that He who came had no need of repentance. We know it. Quite the contrary, He was fulfilling righteousness. But for His own it was just the thing according to God. The life of God, which put forth its first breath in the atmosphere of God, but in the midst of men, took its first step in the divine way - the way toward the kingdom which was going to appear. He would not leave them there alone. He takes His place with them. Infinite grace, sweet thought, full of His love for the heart of His own!
Remark also how He abases Himself here to the level of His messenger: "Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." You have your part, I mine, in accomplishing the will of God. There He is already a servant! He is baptized, and His place taken in the midst of His own - in the midst of the faithful remnant that walked under the effect of the power of God's Word. And now where is He, the Servant, He who humbled Himself, who has His place with His poor people, the poorest of His flock? Heaven is open, the Holy Spirit descends on Him, the Father owns Him as His Son, He is the model of the position He has taken for us by redemption. Never had heaven so opened before; never had there been on earth an object which He could own as making His good pleasure. Now there was. For us, too, the veil is rent, and heaven is open. We have been anointed and sealed of the Holy Spirit as Jesus was: the Father has owned us to be His beloved sons already in this world. He was such in His own proper and full right, worthy of being so in Himself. We are introduced by grace and redemption. But entered into the midst of His people He shows what is the position which in Him belongs to them; as I have just said, He is its model. What happiness! What grace! But, carefully remark, His divine Person remains always such, a difference besides which is never lost, whatever be His abasement and His grace toward us. When heaven is open for Jesus He has no object above to which He looks to fix His attention. He is Himself the object that heaven contemplates. When heaven is open for Stephen, as for us by faith, Jesus the Son of man is his object in heaven, which is open for His servant. In grace the Lord takes a place with us. He never loses His own either for the Father or for the heart of the believer. The nearer we are to Him, the more we adore Him.
Remark here, also, another thing altogether notable. It is in and by the voluntary humiliation of Jesus that all the Trinity is for the first time fully revealed. The Son is there, the object specially conspicuous as man; the Holy Spirit comes and abides on Him; and the voice of the Father owns Him. Marvellous revelation associated with the position that the Son had taken! The Son is recognised as Jehovah in Psalm 2. The Holy Spirit is found everywhere in the Old Testament. But the full revelation of the three persons in the unity of God - the basis of Christianity - is reserved for the moment when the Son of God takes His place in the midst of the poor of His flock, His true place in the race in which He had His delights, the sons of men. What grace is that of Christianity! What a place is that where our hearts are found. If taught of God, we have learned to know this grace and Him in whom it is come to us! Here, then, is our position according to this grace in Christ Jesus, before God our Father, accepted in the Beloved. J. N. Darby.