Summary: Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist to fulfill all righteousness. What does that have to do with me? Let’s see what the scriptures say.
Jesus Baptism and Ours
Mat 3:13 Then Jesus arrived^ from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" 15 But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted^ Him.
16 And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
The opening of the gospels introduce us to two main characters: John the Baptist, and Jesus. Luke tells us of the amazing birth stories of both John and Jesus. John is called into the ministry by God to preach repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. Jesus begins his ministry by coming to John to be baptized.
John the Baptist is a great man of God. He speaks with the authority of a prophet. His words are full of fire and zeal. His clothes and food are basic. He is a man of the wilderness and great outdoors. It appears that John the Baptist is homeless. Interestingly, Jesus, also later claims to be homeless, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests but the son of man has no place to lay his head.” Matt. 8:20.
The greatest man that ever walked the earth, was a homeless man. Just imagine. He who made heaven and earth left his home in heaven and walked among us without owning a place to lay his head. The one who owned it all, gave up all to come here and save us all.
Jesus and John the Baptist met in the water. John was busy preaching and baptizing those that responded, and Jesus came to him to be baptized. This is recorded in all the gospels, but different details are in each one. Matthew is the only one that tells us what John said when they met. “I have need to be baptized by you and do you come to me?” We do have more of what John the Baptist said as recorded in the gospel of John 1:29-36. There he tells us what the Baptizer said after he saw the Spirit come down upon Jesus. “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” Another interesting detail is found in Luke, who tells us that Jesus was praying as the Spirit came upon him right after his baptism. Luke 3:21-22.
We have what John the Baptist said, and we have what Jesus said, and we also have what the Father in heaven said: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
So, Jesus, the Son of God was baptized. Why? John didn’t think he needed it. Jesus states the reason for his baptism in these words: “for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Matt. 3:15. Jesus is the only person without sin, yet he still needed to be baptized. It has something to do with fulfilling all righteousness.
Just what did Jesus’ baptism mean? And how does that apply to us today?
As we study the Bible we can see at least 4 things that were accomplished at Jesus baptism.
1. Jesus entered his ministry with his baptism.
2. Jesus’ identity was revealed to John at his baptism.
3. Jesus identifies himself with us sinners in his baptism.
4. Jesus gives us an example to follow by his baptism.
Do you remember when you were baptized? I do. I was 12. I had gone to church all of my life. Elbert Henry was preaching for the Colbert Heights Church of Christ. It was a church of about this size. I had seen people baptized there through the years. I remember that it had been a while since anyone was baptized when I made my decision. I remember that I knew I was a sinner. I believed in Jesus as the Son of God. I knew that baptism was for remission of sins and that once you were old enough to be accountable, you would be lost unless you were baptized. I knew that if you died in your sins you would go to hell. I don’t remember loving Jesus so much as trusting in Him to save me. I wasn’t as excited about heaven as I was afraid of hell, but both played a major part in my decision. The one thing I am absolutely sure of, and am still so thankful for, is that God’s word laid it out so simply and clearly and I did exactly what it said with as much faith in the Lord as I could.