WHY WAS JESUS BAPTIZED
By W. G. Guy
What is baptism as described in the Bible? Baptism is the practice of symbolically being buried in water, signifying the dying to the old sinful way of living, and coming up out of the water into a new life having put the past life away. It is referred to as the baptism of repentance – a changed life; the new believer having been baptized is no longer practicing his old sinful carnal behavior. Unfortunately, too many churches and Christians do not understand the meaning and purpose of water baptism, and many do not even do it after the biblical fashion. The way they practice baptism nothing changes.
So why was Jesus baptized since he had no sin in his life? We know that He became the pure and perfect sacrifice to atone for all of mankind’s sins which is why He died for us on the cross? The answer to why Jesus was baptized is simple: Jesus was baptized to show a change in his life; remember repent means change. Jesus was about to begin his time of ministry to the people of Israel, which required a change in what he was doing up until that point. He repented of His old life putting it behind Him. John the baptizer identified Jesus and introduced His ministry:
Matthew 3:11, 13-15 – 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:
Jesus was the son of Mary and His adopted father Joseph, His earthly parents. He grew up learning the trade of a carpenter with His father Joseph. It appears that at the time Jesus was baptized that Joseph had died. There is no mention of Joseph in scripture after Jesus was twelve years of age and he and his parents went to Jerusalem for the annual feast. Since Joseph is no longer able to provide for his family, that task traditionally fell to the first born son; thus Jesus was functioning as the head of the family replacing Joseph up until this time.
His mother Mary was dependent upon Him as the first born as she followed him about. Jesus' role as head of the family was also demonstrated by his concern for Mary to be cared for by John upon His crucifixion.
John 19:25-27 – Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple (John) standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
NOTE: Jesus refers to Mary as "woman" and not "mother". Mary is not the Mother of God as the Catholic Church declares. Mary gave birth to a man-child, the Son of God, not to God the Father as Catholic doctrine indicates.
Therefore we find that Jesus did not need to repent of sin, because there was no sin him. Remember that repent means change; what man needs to change is his sinful nature and sinful life. Jesus did not have the sinful nature that is passed on through the seed of man. Jesus was born of the seed of a woman, and God supernaturally implanted the male seed in her by the Holy Spirit.
John the Baptist did not understand Jesus’ request to be baptized until Jesus told him He had to fulfill His calling. Thus fulling God's perfect plan for righteousness that would come through Jesus:
Matthew 3:13-15 – 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.
Jesus was baptized, symbolically putting away his previous manner of life. A new life now began for Jesus. Now as the Son of God instead of being recognized as the son of Joseph:
Matthew 3:16-17 – 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.
At this point even God, the Father from heaven, acknowledged Jesus as His Son. From now on Jesus is to serve His Heavenly Father in His divine work, rather than in the trade of his earthly father, Joseph. Now He is to serve as head of a new family, referred to as the Church which He is to build:
Colossians 1:18 – And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
No longer is He living being the family head of Mary and her other children, His half brothers and sisters:
Mark 6:3 – Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?
The church is now His family, consisting of all who are baptized into Him through faith in His atoning work on the cross. Having laid aside His earthly role in life, He is now ready to be empowered by the Holy Spirit (baptism) to equip Him for the new role in life.
Luke 3:21-22 – Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
Jesus demonstrated how baptism in water is done; going into the water, then under as in being buried; then coming up out of the water as in entering into a resurrected or totally new way of life:
Mark 1:9-10 – And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
Then the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, baptizing Him in the power from on high which equipped Him with the supernatural ability to serve people with healing, and the other Gifts of the Holy Spirit which allowed Him to minister to people revealing the supernatural Kingdom of God. This is the same Holy Spirit that came upon the believers as they were assembled in the upper room on the day of Pentecost. The baptism in the Holy Spirit, as Jesus received, is also for all believers to equip us to be living testimonies and witnesses of and for Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. This promise of God applies to all believers, right up unto the time of His promised return.
Acts 1:8 – But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 2:38-39 – Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
1 Corinthians 1:6-7 – even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Thus we are now to carry on the Gospel work of the ministry as did Jesus, having the same ability He had through the Holy Spirit. We are to preach the gospel of the kingdom, Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and baptizing new believers in water with the baptism of repentance; then having them baptized in the Holy Spirit and power so they too can continue to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and the coming kingdom of God.
The conclusion as to why was Jesus baptized is summed up in the need for REPENTANCE. Water baptism represents a change from a life that is worldly to a life that is righteous and godly.
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.