The Baptism of Jesus
At the age of 30, Jesus began His public work for God by going to John the Baptizer to be baptized. At first, John refused to baptize Jesus. He said, “I have need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” (Matthew 3:14). Why did John say that to Jesus? John was baptizing people for the forgiveness of their sins if they would confess their sins and repent (Matthew 3:6,8; Mark 1:4). He knew that Jesus was sinless, and thus did not need to be baptized for the forgiveness of His sins. Jesus did not correct John by saying that baptism is not for the remission of sins. Rather, Jesus showed that He was an exception to the usual reason for baptizing people. He gave John another reason for baptizing Him—a reason that applied only to the Son of God: “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).
What did Jesus mean by this statement? John later explained the special reason when he said that he came baptizing with water so that Jesus could be revealed to Israel (John 1:31). When John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, two very important things happened: (1) the Spirit of God descended like a dove on Jesus; and (2) God said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). When John saw and heard these two things, he was able to prove his belief that Jesus was, in fact, the Son of God (John 1:34). Jesus’ baptism established His divine identity to the world. Not so with people today. They are to be baptized in water to be forgiven of their sins (Acts 2:38), to be clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27), to be saved by the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21), and to be added to Christ's church (Acts 2:47).
Jesus came to the Earth to do His Father’s will (Luke 2:49; John 9:4). He submitted to water baptism, and He requires people today to be baptized in water to become His disciples (Matthew 28:19), and in order to have their sins forgiven by His blood (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16).