7603 - Baptism of Jesus


What an amazing sight it must have been, to be present at the baptism of Jesus.

In Luke 3:21-23 we find a short mention about the Baptist of Jesus by John the Baptist. Let me read these verses:
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,

As we discuss this topic of the Baptist of Jesus we will also make use of John 1 and Matthew 3 to get a larger picture.

Matthew tells us (3:13-17) that Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan where John the Baptist was carrying on his ministry for the explicit purpose of being baptized by John. Notice, this intent was already in the mind of Jesus. Being baptized was not something Jesus did in the emotion of the moment.

I will read the Matthew passage before further discussion.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"

Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

We profit by remembering that Jesus and John the Baptist were cousins. In all likelihood they had played together on many occasions. It is possible they had even attended the Passover in Jerusalem in the same crowd. In that culture people traveled together for safety sake as well as fellowship.

It is this insight into the past that helps us to understand the reaction of John when Jesus presented himself for baptism. John says to Jesus, “You need to baptize me.” We see that John the Baptist knew Jesus to be an extraordinarily good person at the very least.

When we put that together with the same scene from John’s gospel, some ask questions. John’s gospel tells us that John the Baptist had been prepared by God that one day he would baptize someone, and then the Holy Spirit would descend as a dove and abide on him; and this one was to be the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, or He’s the Messiah.

This same passage (John 1:33) tells us that when Jesus came to John the Baptist for baptism that John declares that he did not know Jesus. However, after John had immersed Jesus, then the symbol for which he had been prepared was fulfilled. At that moment John’s spiritual eyes were opened and he knew Jesus to be the Son of God. God’s announcement from heaven about His pleasure with His Son, Jesus must have added to the awesomeness.

Now let’s weave these two passages together to seek understanding. Much misunderstanding has occurred from the apparent contradictions here.

However, there is no contradiction if we recognize that in the Matthew passage, John the Baptist recognized Jesus on the human level as a man of perfect character. Surely, as Jesus played in childhood, his purity and sinless ways would have made an impression.

While in the John passage John the Baptist had a great spiritual revelation as the dove descended upon Jesus. At that point, and not before, Jesus was proven to John the Baptist to be the Messiah.

In this latter passage John the Baptist openly and clearly declares that Jesus was indeed the divine Son of God who had come to earth. And friend, this was the first such declaration during Jesus’ life, although others would follow.

This baptismal scene is considered to be the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, and his age was about thirty years old, the age for the priests to begin serving.