16 Now, having been baptized, straightaway Jesus went up from the water, and the Heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God coming down upon Him, coming as a dove.
17 And see, a voice from the heavens said: “This One is My dearly loved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
There is a word in verse sixteen, which appears to be of little significance. It is the word: ‘straightaway’. To us it may seem strange that Matthew has included this word, since it would seem obvious that Jesus would have come out of the water once He had been baptized. Including this word might suggest that it would have been usually for people to linger in the water after they had been baptized. If so, this would have been very different to our present day experience of baptism in the Western world.
When we are baptized we may be prayed for whilst stood in the water, but then we exit the baptismal pool.
Perhaps in John’s day people may have lingered longer in the water. The river water may have been warmer, encouraging people to enjoy being in the water whilst others were baptized.
However, this was not so with Jesus; the moment He had been baptized He immediately went up out of the water and on to the river bank.
There was no time for Jesus to linger in the water; there was another appointment awaiting Him. That appointment was the confirmation of His identity, and the empowering of Him in the Holy Spirit for the task He had come to do.
Baptism is a wonderful experience and it is good for us to enjoy it, to savour the moment. However, baptism is momentary. It is a fleeting moment on our pathway to something else. Therefore, there is no time for us to linger in the moment. Instead we need to embrace coming out of the waters of baptism in order to enter into the next experience that our Father has planned for us.
We will always remember the day we were baptized, because it was the day of a new experience in Jesus; it was a day that signified our being filled with love for Him and devotion to Him. It was also a day of embarkation, as we stepped out of the waters into the new thing that Jesus was going to do in us and through us.