It was a big deal that Jesus was baptized. Everyone knew it was a big deal. The man who baptized Him initially tried to prevent it. What was the meaning and significance of His baptism? Here are four insights.
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to stop Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” 15 Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him to be baptized. 16 After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. 17 And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!
Insight #1: The baptism of Jesus validated the ministry of John the Baptist (vv13-15). The ministry of John the Baptist occurred in the wilderness, on the shores of the Jordan River. The religious leaders in Jerusalem were not supportive of his methods or his message. When Jesus came to John to be baptized by him, He was supporting John’s ministry.
John initially resisted Jesus’ request to be baptized because John knew that Jesus was perfect and that John was a sinful man. John said that it would be better if Jesus baptized him! But Jesus said that John should allow Him to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness (more on this later). Jesus’ baptism validated the ministry of John the Baptist.
Insights #2: The baptism of Jesus foreshadowed His death and resurrection (v15). Jesus was immersed in the waters of the Jordan River. The Greek word baptizo literally means “submerge under the water.” Through His baptism, He was declaring that He would eventually die for our sins (symbolized by His going under the water) and He was declaring that He would be raised back to life (symbolized by His coming back up out of the water). His death and resurrection fulfilled all righteousness.
Through believer’s baptism, we identify with Jesus in His death and resurrection, and we illustrate our new life in Christ. Jesus’ baptism foreshadowed His death and resurrection. Our baptism tells the world that our trust is in Jesus, that we believe in His death and resurrection to pay the penalty for our sin, and that He has changed our life!
4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.
Insight #3: The baptism of Jesus gave an example for believers to follow (v15). When we are baptized, we are making a public profession of our faith in Jesus, demonstrating our obedience to follow His commands. He commanded His followers to make disciples of all nations, to baptize them, and to teach them to obey all of His commands.
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The first followers of Jesus absolutely obeyed His commands. And the results were tremendous! In one day, 3000 people trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior and followed Him in believer’s baptism.
37 When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?” 38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!” 41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them.
This is the pattern we see repeatedly throughout the New Testament: people believe in Jesus and then they are baptized to tell the world of their faith in Him. Jesus’ baptism gave the example for believers to follow. We follow His example in the same way today.
Insight #4: The baptism of Jesus began His public ministry (vv16-17). At His baptism, as He came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came down upon Him. The Spirit’s presence, power and peace were upon Him like a dove. Also, a voice from heaven was heard declaring: “This is my beloved Son. I take delight in Him.” God the Father spoke from heaven. At His baptism, we see the trinity displayed: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
After His baptism, Jesus began to publicly teach, heal and minister. His baptism was a turning point in His life, ushering in His public ministry.