To fulfill all righteousness - That is, Every righteous ordinance: so I think the words πασαν δικαιοσυνην should be translated; and so our common version renders a similar word, Luke 1:6. The following passage, quoted from Justin Martyr, will doubtless appear a strong vindication of this translation. "Christ was circumcised, and observed all the other ordinances of the law of Moses, not with a view to his own justification; but to fulfill the dispensation committed to him by the Lord, the God and Creator of all things." - Wakefield.
How remarkable are the following words of Creeshna (an Incarnation of the Supreme God, according to the Hindoo theology) related in the Bhagvat Geeta, p. 47. Addressing his disciple Arjoon, he says, "I myself, Arjoon, have not, in the three regions of the universe, any thing which is necessary for me to perform; nor any thing to obtain, which is not obtained; and yet I live in the exercise of the moral duties. If I were not vigilantly to attend to those duties, all men would presently follow my example. If I were not to perform the moral actions, this world would fail in their duties: I should be the cause of spurious births, and should drive the people from the right way. As the ignorant perform the duties of life from a hope of reward, so the wise man, out of respect to the opinions and prejudices of mankind, should perform the same without motives of interest. The wise man, by industriously performing all the duties of life, should induce the vulgar to attend to them."
The Septuagint use this word often for the Hebrew משפת mishpat, judgment, appointment. And in Ezekiel 18:19, Ezekiel 18:21, the person who δικαιοσυνην και ελεος πεποιηκε - hath done righteousness and mercy, is he who sacredly attended to the performance of all the religious ordinances mentioned in that chapter, and performed them in the genuine spirit of mercy. Δικαιωματα is used 1 Maccabees 1:13, 49; 2:21, and in Hebrews 10:1, Hebrews 10:10, to denote religious ceremonies. Michaelis supposes that חק כל kol chok, all religious statutes or ordinances, were the words used in the Hebrew original of this Gospel.
But was this an ordinance? Undoubtedly: it was the initiatory ordinance of the Baptist's dispensation. Now, as Christ had submitted to circumcision, which was the initiatory ordinance of the Mosaic dispensation, it was necessary that he should submit to this, which was instituted by no less an authority, and was the introduction to his own dispensation of eternal mercy and truth. But it was necessary on another account: Our Lord represented the high priest, and was to be the high priest over the house of God: - now, as the high priest was initiated into his office by washing and anointing, so must Christ: and hence he was baptized, washed, and anointed by the Holy Ghost. Thus he fulfilled the righteous ordinance of his initiation into the office of high priest, and thus was prepared to make an atonement for the sins of mankind.
Then he suffered him - In the Opus Imperfectum, quoted by Griesbach, there is the following addition, which, at least, may serve to show the opinion of its author: Et Johannes quidem baptizauit ilium in aqua, ille autem Johannem cum Spiritu. "Then John baptized him with water, and he baptized John with the Spirit."
Thus it becometh us - It is suitable and proper. And though you may feel yourself unworthy, yet it is proper it should be done.
All righteousness - There was no particular precept in the Old Testament requiring this, but he chose to give the sanction of his example to the baptism of John, as to a divine ordinance. The phrase “all righteousness,” here, is the same as a righteous institution or appointment. Jesus had no sin. But he was about to enter on his great work. It was proper that he should be set apart by his forerunner, and show his connection with him, and give his approbation to what John had done. He submitted to the ordinance of baptism, also, in order that occasion might be taken, at the commencement of his work, for God publicly to declare his approbation of him, and his solemn appointment to the office of the Messiah.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21. LHU 79.1
In the submission of Christ to the ordinance of baptism, He shows the sinner one of the important steps in true conversion. Christ had no sins to wash away, but in consenting to become a substitute for man, the sins of guilty man were imputed to Him.... While God accepts Christ as the sinner's substitute, He gives the sinner a chance, with Christ's divine power to help him, to stand the test which Adam failed to endure. LHU 79.2Read in context »
His mission was to “magnify the law, and make it honorable.” Isaiah 42:21. He was to show the spiritual nature of the law, to present its far-reaching principles, and to make plain its eternal obligation. MB 49.1
The divine beauty of the character of Christ, of whom the noblest and most gentle among men are but a faint reflection; of whom Solomon by the Spirit of inspiration wrote, He is “the chiefest among ten thousand, ... yea, He is altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:10-16); of whom David, seeing Him in prophetic vision, said, “Thou art fairer than the children of men” (Psalm 45:2); Jesus, the express image of the Father's person, the effulgence of His glory; the self-denying Redeemer, throughout His pilgrimage of love on earth, was a living representation of the character of the law of God. In His life it is made manifest that heaven-born love, Christlike principles, underlie the laws of eternal rectitude. MB 49.2
“Till heaven and earth pass,” said Jesus, “one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” By His own obedience to the law, Christ testified to its immutable character and proved that through His grace it could be perfectly obeyed by every son and daughter of Adam. On the mount He declared that not the smallest iota should pass from the law till all things should be accomplished—all things that concern the human race, all that relates to the plan of redemption. He does not teach that the law is ever to be abrogated, but He fixes the eye upon the utmost verge of man's horizon and assures us that until this point is reached the law will retain its authority so that none may suppose it was His mission to abolish the precepts of the law. So long as heaven and earth continue, the holy principles of God's law will remain. His righteousness, “like the great mountains” (Psalm 36:6), will continue, a source of blessing, sending forth streams to refresh the earth. MB 49.3Read in context »
I was carried down to the time when Jesus was to take upon Himself man's nature, humble Himself as a man, and suffer the temptations of Satan. EW 153.1
His birth was without worldly grandeur. He was born in a stable and cradled in a manger; yet His birth was honored far above that of any of the sons of men. Angels from heaven informed the shepherds of the advent of Jesus, and light and glory from God accompanied their testimony. The heavenly host touched their harps and glorified God. They triumphantly heralded the advent of the Son of God to a fallen world to accomplish the work of redemption, and by His death to bring peace, happiness, and everlasting life to man. God honored the advent of His Son. Angels worshiped Him. EW 153.2Read in context »