Baptism is an outward proclamation of inwardly repenting sin. The symbolism represents our sin washed clean by water; though baptism was not new to the Jewish nation. Levite priests were commanded to practice the act of cleansing themselves with water before carrying out their priestly duties.
The Bible’s famous baptist, John the Baptist (son of Zechariah), was known for his unconventional ways. He wore clothing made of camel’s hair and leather, and consumed a unique diet of locust with wild honey. This wilderness man also preached an aggressive message which included baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins.
What made John different from other teachers of his time, first of all, was he was not a temple priest. Also, John proclaimed the act of baptism now delivers man into a new relationship with God. John described this event as preparing the way for the expected Messiah.
John baptized many for repentance of their sin in the Jordan River. However, there was one who came to John to be baptized, though He had no sin.
Luke 3:21-22 reads: 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.”
Jesus (Son of God, the God/man who fulfilled prophesies of prophets Micah, Isaiah, Hosea, Zechariah, and Malachi) strided into the Jordan River straight towards John. Yet John, considering himself less than Jesus, tried to deter Jesus from the baptism.
Jesus had to clearly assert to John – Matthew 3:15, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” – the need for His baptism. So John followed through with the act of baptizing the Messiah.
Jesus was thirty years of age at this time. Though the Bible truly confirms Jesus was without sin in Hebrews 4:15, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Jesus’ act of choosing to to be baptized by John informs us of three facts:
- Jesus is accomplishing God’s mission.
- Jesus is supporting what John is doing and teaching.
- Jesus is revealing His inauguration into His ministry.
In a rare occurrence as the baptism took place, biblical text records the existence of the Trinity together at the Jordan River, Luke 3:21-22,
- …Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying – reveals God the Son
- …the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. – reveals God the Holy Spirit
- And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” – reveals God the Father
Immediately following His baptism Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
Through this clear example from Jesus though He was baptized, the world should expect temptation and struggle just as Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. However, Jesus overcame temptation with the help of Holy Spirit.
Why is this significant to followers of Christ? Because evan though you may not be baptized by full body immersion, you too can receive the gift of the Holy Spirt. The Bible explains the nanosecond anyone accepts Jesus as our Savior – Holy Spirit comes to live within them.
It’s important to remember it’s not the act of baptism that saves a soul.
Baptism is an outward illustration we die and are buried with Christ by going under water, then Christ’s resurrection is reflected when we come out of the water.
What saves us is our inward proclamation to God that we believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, and we repent of our sin. Baptism simply proclaims to family, friends and everyone else what God already knows.