Study Starter: Why was Jesus baptized?
By: Christopher Wiles
There are a lot of famous Johns throughout history that we love to talk about. There’s John Locke, the philosopher. How about John D. Rockefeller, the famous entrepreneur? John Candy was a famous funny man; John Cena is a famous athlete; John McEnroe had awful hair and attitude but amazing tennis skills.
Of all those John’s we could talk about, why don’t we focus on two John’s and Jesus who come together in one chapter of the Bible so that we can understand an answer to a perplexing question:
WHY WAS JESUS BAPTIZED?
If John the Baptist was immersing people for repentance and remission of sins (Luke 3:3), then what good motive did a sinless Messiah need for traveling 100 miles (Matt3:13, John 1:28) to be baptized by John? Matthew, Mark, and Luke don’t give us a lot of info as to the “why?” except that Matthew records Jesus in the following argument to JTB, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matt 3:15)
Thanks for making the purpose of your baptism abundantly clear Jesus. So what was this righteousness that needed to be fulfilled? I can’t find any prophecy in the OT that speaks of baptism. The closest I can come up with is when priests had to be sprinkled, shaved, and washed to begin their ministry (Num 8:7) or when Moses washed Aaron and his sons (Lev 8:6). Yet we don’t see anything about Jesus being sprinkled or shaved, nor was Jesus a priest according to the line of Aaron (he was of the order of Melchizedek in Hebrews5:8-10).
From the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) we’re back to the question. WHY WAS JESUS BAPTIZED? WHAT WAS FULFILLED?
I’m thankful that John “the beloved disciple” was a different sort of writer. He often explains things for the curious guy like me in crystal clear ways that I love to read his inspiration. Disciple John’s explanation is pretty simple really when he starts telling the history of John the Baptist in correlation with Jesus. God told John the Baptist in Disciple John's historical retelling, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” (John1:33) Then Disciple John records Baptist John saying “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” Baptist John reveals to Israel (John 1:31) that Jesus is the Chosen One and John the Disciple reveals it to us. Therefore, Jesus' baptism was to announce to JTB, Israel, and us that JESUS IS THE CHOSEN ONE. Fulfillment of JTB’s direct revelation came in this righteous act as well. I’m thankful for God using these two famous John’s to bring us understanding, aren’t you?
Baptism was an important start to Jesus’ ministry; so important that all four gospel writers talk about it. Matthew records Jesus directing disciples to baptize people at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry too. Nine baptisms are recording in the book of Acts, and the remaining letters of the new testament speak of baptism at least 15 times in the KJV. Needless to say, from the beginning to the end of the New Testament, understanding baptism and participating in it was big deal to many of our heroes of faith, and even to the Son of God Himself. God declared to the world Jesus as His Chosen One through Baptism. Have you declared yourself as God’s child through the same manner?
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” – Galatians 3:26-27