Scot McKnight writes:
Theologians speak of Jesus' "active" and "passive" obedience. "Passive obedience" refers to Jesus' suffering for us; his "active" obedience is his perfect life before God. (p 238)
The chapter in this section I wish to refer to is entitled "In the Jordan with Jesus". I am not summarizing it, and would highly recommend that you read it and the book. I am simply pulling out what I believe to be truth from it which on the surface is missed in our Bible reading and even in our study, ordinarily. The aspect of Jesus' life for us that we'll take a look at now is his repentance for us.
When Jesus went to John the Baptizer in the Jordan to be baptized, John protested that he needed to be baptized by Jesus. Jesus certainly did not need to repent or be baptized by John for himself. He was sinless. But by this act he repented and was baptized for us. He was more than identifying himself with humankind in what he did that day. He was actually enabling us, by his coming death as well as his resurrection, and his asension after which he sent the promise of the Father, the Spirit, to truly repent.
As Scot points out in that chapter, our repentance, though sincere is weak. But Jesus' repentance for us enables our repentance to become strong as well as true. Jesus is for us not only for the forgiveness of our sins, but also for our living in his way and will. In Hebrews 12:2 Jesus is called "the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (TNIV). Note this in its context of Hebrews 11:1-12:3.
Because Jesus "repented" for us in the Jordan our repentance can become a joyful turning from sin to God. Of course repentance for us as God's people is ongoing. Nevertheless it can be powerful and joyous. Because we are carried along by the one who perfectly repented for us.
You may protest and think this is majoring on a minor. And is this really true anyhow? Yes, I think there are basics we need to be taught. Like "Christ died for our sins, he was buried, he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures." Or, by Jesus incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension and by the coming of the Spirit we by this grace, through faith become the people of God. But we need to try to understand all we can from this Story of God. And I believe this teaching is missed by many of us.
Jesus. Thank you for your death and resurrection for us. And thank you for your life that you lived for us. Thank you for repenting only so our repentance can be real through your perfect and complete repentance. Let us follow you, all the way. By your mercy and grace. Amen.