The story of the baptism of Jesus can be found in three of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke . The book of John talks about the baptism in chapter 1, but does not give any details to the actual event. Each telling of the story involves only a few verses, yet so much is taught in these few words. You can read the stories in Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11 and Luke 3:21-22.
Jesus came up from Nazareth in Galilee to the Jordan river to see John the Baptist. Remember that John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus. John had been preaching the Gospel of repentance. People had confessed their sins with an understanding that God would send a Redeemer to forgive them. Then the Bible says that John baptized those who believed in the coming Messiah (Matthew 3:1-6).
Jesus came to John for baptism. John did not want to baptize the Lord. John felt unworthy. He already knew that Jesus was the One the world had been looking forward to since the first promise of a Redeemer back in Genesis 3:15. Yet Jesus asked John to baptize Him and John obeyed.
Following the act of baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus. The Luke passage says that the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily form. Because of those words and because each of the three passages say that the Spirit descended “like a dove,” we know that the people around the baptism of Christ saw something special that day.
I think it is important to read the wording carefully here. These verses do not say that the Holy Spirit took on the body of a dove. While He may have done so, these verses do not say this. They say that the manner in which the Holy Spirit descended was like a dove. Don’t fall into the trap of worshiping the creature more than the Creator (Romans 1:22-25). These words are written to give us an understanding of the way the Holy Spirit came down, not necessarily what the bodily form He took was. That said, He may very well have taken on the shape of a dove, but the text does not say this, and certainly does not encourage us to worship doves.
Following the baptism of Jesus and the descension of the Holy Spirit, a voice from heaven was heard. This was the voice of God the Father.
God said, “This is (Thou art) my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11) God spoke directly to the people and to Jesus to give a pronouncement of who Christ was. Jesus was the Son of God and God approved of His life, ministry and coming sacrifice.
What We Can Learn
Jesus was an example for us in many ways. There are some things that He did that we obviously cannot do; such as die on behalf of another for the purpose of forgiving their sin debt. However, we can follow the Lord in His example of baptism. Our baptism is used to identify us with Christ. It announces to others that we have made a decision to accept and follow the Lord. Baptism is an important step for a new believer.
Jesus did not start His public ministry until after this event. The Luke passage says that Jesus was about 30 years old when He was baptized. God used this time to publicly announce Jesus’ ministry. Immediately after this event Jesus was led out into the desert by the Holy Spirit to fast and pray. At the conclusion of 40 days of fasting, Satan came to tempt the Lord. When the Lord began His public ministry He also immediately began to be a practical example for us in devotion to God and resistance to the temptations of the devil.
The Trinity is beautifully displayed in each of the three passages that we’ve looked at which cover the baptism of Christ. In each passage we see God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. They are three distinct persons, yet They work together to accomplish Their will.
The baptism of Jesus was also used to endorse the ministry of John the Baptist. God, through Jesus, was putting His stamp of approval on the preaching and teaching of John. People should listen to what John had to say because he was preaching the truth.
The baptism of Jesus certainly is a turning point in the ministry of John and Jesus. John continued to preach, but as we see in John chapter 1, some of John’s own disciples left him to start following Jesus after this important time. Jesus also began to teach and to preach publicly, though we also know that He spent time before this in the synagogues learning from and teaching the Jews about God’s law.
What else is the story of Jesus’ baptism teaching? Please leave your answer in the comments area below.
Do you want to learn more about the purpose of our baptism? Take a look at this related article:
Resource – The Holy Bible, King James Version, YouTube “I have decided to follow Jesus” by Aaron Pelsue