First, you do what’s right.
Then, you speak of the One who makes things right.
Jesus began his life of public ministry by listening to his prophetic cousin John encourage people to repent and submitting Himself to the waters of baptism.
It’s not like He needed to repent, because He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).
So among all the other extraordinary qualities communicated in baptism, here are these two reasons as foundational examples. We need to begin our lives of public ministry by revealing Jesus to others, and to do the right things because they’re the right things to do.
I’m not going to get in to a discussion of faith and works. I’m convinced that Paul and James have no argument with each other. We do what we do because we believe. We communicate Whom we believe in by what we do and say.
And you can’t separate doing and saying as powerful tools in communicating the gospel. If what you do doesn’t match what you say — or vice-versa — you have no credibility as a follower of Christ trying to live and speak His life to others.
Don’t forget that not only did John identify Jesus as his Lord; the voice of God Himself and the presence of the dove testify to Who the Christ is, and Whose Son He is, and Whom He pleases by doing the right thing, and Whose Spirit rests upon Him.
If there is a better way to begin a life of ministry to God and to others — bringing them together or even just closer together — then Jesus doesn’t communicate it to us by His words or His example.
Following Him means going with Him into the water, into death to self, into a resurrection to a new life.
Following Him means being immersed in His life.