John the Baptist provided a baptism that served as a sign of repentance, but Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). So why did John baptize Jesus?
What is the importance of Jesus' baptism? Why was He baptized?
At first, even John the Baptist sought to dismiss Jesus' request for baptism. He said, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" (Matthew 3:14). John recognized Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God (John 1:29) who did not need to be baptized to show His repentance. He then consented after Jesus replied, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15).
Several factors explain why the perfect Son of God chose to be baptized. First, Jesus sought to make a clear connection with John the Baptist. John was the "voice of one crying in the wilderness" (Matthew 3:3; Isaiah 40:3) who served as the Elijah who was to come. As the one to announce the Messiah, it was fitting for him to dedicate Jesus for His public ministry.
Second, Jesus' baptism connected the humanity of Jesus with the rest of humanity. Though He was without sin, He took on the form of a man and identified with human experiences. This even included His experience of being baptized, a practice He would later command of all His followers (Matthew 28:18-20).
Third, Jesus' baptism provided an example He expected other believers to follow. In Matthew 28:18-20 we read, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Jesus began His public ministry with baptism; He ended His public ministry with a command for His followers to baptize others.
Fourth, the baptism of Jesus provided the first explicit mention in the New Testament involving all three members of the Triune God. Matthew 3:16-17 says, "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; and behold, a voice from heaven said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'" Jesus, the Spirit, and the voice of God the Father all appear at one time, revealing the uniqueness of each Person of the Trinity while affirming their essential unity.
In summary, the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist included enormous theological significance. It affirmed Jesus as the Messiah whom John spoke of, revealed the humanity of Jesus, provided an example for others, and displayed a beautiful picture of the Triune God among the earliest followers of Jesus.
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