God Honors His Humble Son (3:13-17)

Given the embarrassment of some early Christian traditions that Jesus accepted baptism from one of lower status than himself, it is now inconceivable that early Christians made up the story of John baptizing Jesus (E. Sanders 1985:11; 1993:94; Meier 1994:100-105; pace Bultmann 1968:251).

Although Jesus alone did not need John's baptism-he was the giver of the true baptism (3:11)-he submitted to it to fulfill God's plan (3:14-15). In a traditional Mediterranean culture where society stressed honor and shame (Malina 1993), Jesus relinquishes his rightful honor to embrace others' shame. After Jesus' public act of humility, God publicly honors Jesus as his own Son (3:16-17; compare 2:15)-that is, as the mightier One whose coming to bestow the Spirit John had prophesied (3:11-12).

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