Baptism of Jesus

In due course John publicly introduced Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, for whom he had prepared the way. John’s introduction contained none of the popular Jewish ideas of a political or military leader who would bring in a golden age for Israel. Instead it suggested that the Messiah would die, like a lamb offered in sacrifice for the cleansing of sin (John 1:29-30). John then pointed out that he himself was not at first certain that Jesus was the Messiah, but when he saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus at his baptism, he was left in no doubt. John’s explanation indicates that Jesus’ baptism took place before his public introduction (John 1:31-34).

When Jesus approached John to be baptized, John hesitated, because he knew Jesus was superior to him in character, status and authority. But Jesus insisted. He wanted to begin his ministry with a public declaration of his devotion to God. Baptism was an act of obedience carried out by those who declared themselves on the side of God and his righteousness. Jesus was baptized to show that, like all the faithful, he was obedient to God and he intended to carry out all God’s purposes. His baptism displayed his identification, or solidarity, not only with the faithful minority of Israel but also with the human race in

 

general. It was an identification that would lead to a far greater baptism at Golgotha, when as the representative of his fellow human beings he would bear the full penalty of sin (Matt 3:13-15).

Having shown his intentions openly, Jesus received openly the assurance that his Father was pleased with him. The Father’s announcement, by combining a quote concerning the Davidic Messiah with one concerning the Servant of the Lord (see Ps 2:7; Isa 42:1), gave an indication that Jesus’ way to kingly glory was to be that of the suffering servant. In appointing Jesus to his public ministry, the Father poured out upon him the Holy Spirit, through whose power he would carry out his messianic work (Matt 3:16-17; cf. Isa 11:1-2; 61:1; Acts 10:37-38).

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