Instructive Interaction: Jesus & John the Baptist

Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me? But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” ~Matthew 3:13-17

I was challenged recently to read the Gospels with an eye to Christ’s interaction with others as the Wonderful Counselor. How does Jesus speak to people? What does he say? What is the context of the situation? Who’s involved? These and other questions are in my mind as I begin this study. The post today is based on my reading of Matthew 3 this morning.

Jesus arrives at John the Baptist’s location

Jesus enters the Gospel according to Matthew in chapter 3. He was referenced in previous chapters but only as a baby and small child. He appears as John has been baptizing and exhorting his followers to repent of sin and produce fruits (works) of repentance. Evidently he appears at the river Jordan’s banks asking John to baptize him. John immediately begins to protest.

Jesus reveals wrong thinking – “…permit it at this time…”

John’s protest is not out of a hard heart or rebellion against Christ. No, he thoroughly recognizes Christ for who he is: Messiah. More than that, he recognizes his status in relation to Christ: his need for Christ. So his protest comes from a humble heart, desirous to do what is right. Even though John desires to do what is right and is humble in his protest, he is humbly wrong. How does Jesus react? Jesus reacts patiently, willing to instruct John in the way of righteousness.

Many of the people that come into our offices are not “rebellious” and “hard-hearted” to God’s working in their lives. Many times they are lacking sufficient understanding of what is right (even if they grew up in the Church). What is to be our response to them? How does a Christ-like counselor interact with these people?Patiently. I like how Paul instructs Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:

…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction

A biblical counselor patiently instructs

Jesus points to right thinking – “…for in this way…”

Jesus isn’t satisfied just to rid John the Baptist of wrong thinking. He desires to point him to a right way of thinking. In essence it is as if he is saying, “No, that is a wrong way of thinking / acting. Now, this is the right way to think / act”.

This is a vital component of biblical counseling. We must not be satisfied with simply getting our counselees to stop wrong thinking and behavior. We must also replace their wrong thinking and behavior with right thinking and behavior. In your counseling, can you identify wrong thinking / behavior, and can you then patiently demonstrate a right way of thinking / behavior?

A biblical counselor demonstrates righteousness

Jesus reveals proper motivation – “…to fulfill all righteousness…”

What is motivating Christ to be patient with John the Baptist’s wrong thinking and then demonstrating right thinking? It is because Jesus is motivated by righteousness. He is driven by obedience. Jesus desires to do the will of his Father, to obey all his commands.

And so it is our proper motivation as counselors and counselees. The reason we desire to stop wrong thinking and behavior and replace it with right thinking and behavior is so that we remain obedient to the will of the Father. We cannot be motivated by ease of the consequences, personal comfort, embarrassment, or one of any many idols in our hearts. We must make it our goal to please God.

A biblical counselor motivates properly

What is the result of this interaction? – “…Then he permitted him…”

When John realized how his thinking and acting was flawed, submitted to right instruction and then properly motivated obeyed, two things happened: Jesus Christ was exalted and God the Father was glorified. When Christ comes up out of the water and the Spirit descends on him, a loud Voice from the heavens stated, “This is My beloved Son“. Christ is immediately identified as the Messiah, God’s chose One. He was exalted for who he was. Then God continued, “…in whom I am well-pleased“. God the Father always is pleased with the obedience of his children. Jesus Christ, our perfect Example, modeled perfect obedience and showed that God is pleased as a result. The Father is always glorified with the obedience of his children.

We need to encourage our counselees that obedience is what we strive for so that we please God and bring him glory. As we let go of wrong thinking, embrace right thinking, are motivated by proper motives (heart), as a result, God is pleased with our thinking and resulting behavior.

A biblical counselor reveals right results

So, how are you doing in your counseling? Let’s list the summarized points again:

  • A biblical counselor patiently instructs
  • A biblical counselor demonstrates righteousness
  • A biblical counselor motivates properly
  • A biblical counselor reveals right results

Think of how you can incorporate these points into your next session. Identify wrong thinking, counsel right thinking, give right motivation and point to the final result of obedience: God’s glory. May we always exalt Christ in our sessions!

Chance to Interact: Can you think of other points that could be made from this passage that would be relevant to counseling?


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