Listen:  

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist as we read in Matthew 3:13-17, “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  It is no wonder that John’s response to the Lord when He asked to be baptized was one of humble refusal.  Knowing who Christ was, John realized the Lord’s sinlessness, and his own sinfulness.  Rather than baptize Christ, John insisted that he needed to be baptized by Christ.  We read of John’s words in Matthew 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”  John the Baptist had a good knowledge of the worth of the Lord Jesus.  He realized that he was not even worthy to untie the Lord’s shoes.  So, when the Lord asked John to baptize Him, John thought he certainly was not worthy to do that.

First, let’s look at the purpose of John’s baptism.  He stated that he baptized “with water unto repentance.”  That is different than the purpose of the baptism that believers participate in today.  We read of Christian baptism in Romans 6:3-5 which says, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”  Christians today are baptized for a public proclamation that they identify with the Lord Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection.  John’s baptism occurred before the Lord’s death, so its purpose was different.

As John said in Matthew 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance…”  In Matthew 3:6 we read of those who were baptized by John.  That says they, “…were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”  John’s ministry of baptism was a call to repentance to the nation of Israel.  The confession of sin is a sign of true repentance.

I think we can all agree that Christ had no sins to confess.  1 Peter 2:22 tells us that Christ, “…did no sin…”  2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Christ, “…knew no sin…”  1 John 3:5 says of Christ, “…in him is no sin.”  Why then did Jesus feel the need to be baptized?  The Lord was baptized by John, taking His place among the repentant ones in Israel, not as confessing any sins, but as fulfilling righteousness as He said in Matthew 3:15, “…thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”  Thus the Lord gave John permission to do what, without divine instruction, he would never have been willing to do. He assured John that in this way it was fitting, and went on to explain to John that His baptism was important for both of their ministries, as He had said, “thus it becometh US to fulfill all righteousness.”  For God’s plan to be perfectly fulfilled, it was necessary for Jesus to be baptized and to be baptized specifically by John.

Another reason for Jesus’ baptism is that God had given John the important role of being the one to announce Christ to the nation of Israel.  As we read in John 1:23, “He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.”  The baptism of Jesus authenticated to John that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.  John 1:29-34 says, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.  This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”  At Christ’s baptism, the Spirit descended upon him as a dove as we read in Matthew 3:16.  The Lord had promised this evidence to John, that this one is the Son of God.

So, here are two reasons we see that the Lord Jesus was baptized.  There are probably more good reasons, but we do need to understand that Christ was not baptized because of any sins that He had committed.  Hebrews 7:26 assures us that Christ was and is, “…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”  Bless His holy name!