13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
What is Jesus doing in that line of sinners, waiting to repent in the waters of John’s baptism those many years ago? He had no sins to repent of. After all, He was and is the sinless Son of God. John quite properly asks the question of Jesus, “You come to me?” Jesus’ answer is both strange and powerful. Somehow this fulfills all righteousness.
The solution to John’s and our perplexity lies in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, at the very end of chapter 5, verse 21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus is in that line because he, more than anyone, needs to be in that line. He has no sin of His own, but He has taken the sins of the whole world on His shoulders. God made Him to be sin itself. The fact of the matter is, I am terrible at repenting. I sometimes get it somewhat right, but most of the time there is that wicked fellow who lurks in me who secretly loves the sin. I am looking forward to the day he dies and only my regenerate self is raised to new life. For now, however, I have a great comfort. Jesus has taken my sins and properly repented of them. He has stood with my sins on His shoulders and repented, fully, completely, and without any half-measures. He has done this for me and you.