Why Did Jesus Go to John the Baptist to Be Baptized?
It is surprising that Jesus went for water baptism to John the Baptist. Jesus was born without sin and the Bible says that he never sinned. (Hebrews 4:15) Why then, did Jesus go to John the Baptist to be baptized?
Many arguments used to justify and explain this event, in my opinion, are not the reasons why Jesus was baptized, but the results of His baptism.
I believe that by going to the Bible’s account, we can find why Jesus asked John to baptize Him. The answer is in what Jesus said to John the Baptist when John tried to prevent Him, saying, “‘ I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’
And answering Jesus said to him, ‘Allow it now, for it is becoming to us to fulfill all righteousness.’”’ (Matthew 3:13-14)
Jesus — The Example We Should Follow
John the Baptist recognized Jesus’ preeminence. However, Jesus, because of the humanity He shared with us, showed us what we should do to fulfill all righteousness. As Jesus fulfilled all righteousness through obedience in baptism, so do we.
For detailed instructions and understanding about water baptism go here
The Fulfillment of All Righteousness
As Jesus came out of the water, heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him as a dove and a voice said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17) This supernatural manifestation demonstrates God’s approval for Jesus’ action. Besides the physical event, something of great spiritual significance had happened as Jesus went under and came out of the water. Something for our benefit that we should both understand and emulate.
The physical ceremony and immersion in water do not have spiritual power in themselves. When we bathe, nothing spiritual happens. They were symbols of the intention of the One who was baptized. Jesus’ experience parallels and represents that of any believer who intentionally, and with understanding, undergoes water baptism.
Jesus’ Baptism Had 5 Other Major Impacts
- Jesus validated John the Baptist’s ministry. He was also showing the need of repenting from our sins to become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- Jesus was publicly recognized by John the Baptist as the One coming after him who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Mathew 3:11), therefore fulfilling the prophecies about John the Baptist and the coming Messiah (Isaiah 40:3).
- This event was a pivotal point in Jesus’ ministry. Although He had always been in communion with the Father, after that special moment, Jesus’ public ministry started.
- The spiritual manifestation revealed in a unique way the fullness of God’s presence, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17).
- According to the Law, the priest was to bathe himself in water before putting on the sacred garments needed to offer the sacrifice on the altar (Leviticus 16:4, 23-24). Jesus was obedient to this tradition as He entered into His ministry of High Priest of the order of Melchizedek and offered Himself as sacrifice (Hebrews 2:17, 4:14-15, 5:1).
My Experience with Water Baptism
Water baptism for every true believer is always a powerful supernatural experience.
I vividly remember my water baptism. It was at a Christian Men’s convention, about 300 km from my home. The Baptismal ceremony was scheduled for the morning. However, because we could not access the swimming pool, it was postponed until later in the afternoon. That day, I had a special blessing that I will not forget, but the Lord blessed me again when I got home the following day. As I shared my story with my wife, she told me that at the exact time I was baptized, she was in church and experienced such a powerful anointing that she could not stop weeping. Those were tears of great joy. She did not know the time of my baptism but in the Spirit, there is no distance and she was there with me. Something very important for my walk with God had happened and in our spiritual union, her spirit perceived my blessing. My baptism was the start of my public ministry.
The Meaning of Water Baptism
Washing in water has always been a common ceremony in many religions. As the physical body is cleansed when it is washed in water, symbolically, the spiritual impurities and sins are also being removed.
We have seen that, in the Old Testament, the priests bathed in water as they were preparing for the ceremonies (Leviticus 16:4 and 23–24).
The Bible uses the word “baptism” for different experiences. To understand them, we must go back to the meaning of the Greek word “βαπτίζω.” It means to immerse in a liquid like when we die a cloth. Therefore, when there is an experience involving a complete immersion, the Bible refers to it as a baptism. Only in two cases, it involves immersion in water. In all other cases, it implies a deep spiritual experience that also has a clear physical manifestation.
The Five Baptisms
In the Bible, we meet five distinct experiences that are associated with baptism:
- The water baptism of John unto repentance. (Luke 3:3; Acts 19:3-5)
- The water baptism of the believer into Christ. (Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:3–7)
- The baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4 – 5; 19:5–6)
- The baptism of fire. (Matthew 3:11)
- The baptism into the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
It’s interesting to note, from Acts 19, that the first two baptisms are not equal. When we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into his death. Here the symbolism does not signify a washing but our identification in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. By faith, we are united with Him in his death and are raised with Him in his resurrection to the glory of the Father. (Romans 6:3–7) By faith, we appropriate freedom from sin.
In Baptism We Identify with Jesus’ Death, Burial and Resurrection
Any born again believer is a child of God. God calls you to identify with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection and by faith, appropriate His righteousness. If you listen, you will also hear the Father saying, “you are my beloved son, in you I am well pleased.” Continue to walk in that truth. You will manifest Christ in you by the power of the Holy Spirit working in you and will be transformed (1 John 4:17).
This is not the place for a detailed explanation of the old five baptisms. I will cover them in other posts.
Questions to consider
- What was your experience with Baptism?
- Did you fully understand its Biblical meaning and impact?
Please share your experience with us.