I need to be baptized

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” -Matthew 3

Jordan River Baptism Site

Pope Francis visited here, the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism, at the Jordan River on May 24, 2014.

When Jesus came to the Jordan River where John was baptizing people, John was shocked that Jesus wanted to get in the water. John tries to stop Jesus with the words, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” This is not John and Jesus’ first interaction as they are cousins. John sees that Jesus is the Messiah. In the Gospel of John (The Disciple), we have a clear picture of John the Baptist’s supernatural knowledge of who would be the Messiah.

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” —John 1:32—34

Why did John need to be baptized by Jesus?

John knew that “Holy Spirit” baptism was more potent than water baptism. John believed in both baptisms, but he only had the authority or power to baptize people in water. Jesus is the Holy Spirit baptizer, and John wanted that. In Acts 1:8, Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth.”

Why did Jesus need to be Baptized?

  1. To be consecrated
  2. To be announced as the Messiah
  3. To be revealed as human
  4. To be our example

Jesus answered the first reason himself. Speaking to John in verse 15 of Matthew, Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus knew he was launching his public life as the Messiah. This is Jesus’ consecration day. He is being set aside for the Gospel, good news of God. No Jesus did not need his sins confessed and washed away, but he did need his flesh, earthly life, set apart to God.

Secondly, Jesus is publicly called the Messiah on this day. He is declared the son by the father and the holy spirit. “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.” His interaction within the event is an admission he knows he is the Messiah. Finally, in John 1:31, John the Baptist says, “I came baptizing with water was that he (Messiah) might be revealed to Israel.” Jesus baptism is a big deal in all four gospels and the book of Acts, marking a new era.

The third reason Jesus was baptized reveals he was fully human. Jesus was a man who wore sandals, talked with people, and was witnessed by the crowds at the Jordan River listening to John, the one who baptized people for the forgiveness of sins. “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.” Bathing is physical participation in what it is to be human. Jesus is not a distant God of mythology but one who came close and wrapped himself in love. He was set apart to minister to us and reconciled our broken relationship with God.

Finally, Jesus went down in the water to make it clear to all who follow him to start here. Jesus came out of hiding for baptism at the river. If you have hidden from God, this is a powerful way to get moving spiritually. Jesus’ baptism pleased the people that would be his followers because he was not “too good to go down to the Jordan” and get in with everyone else. It is also persuasive that God the Father says, “I’m pleased” at this point.

Baptism is important.

Christian pilgrims dip in the water April 10, 2018, at the baptismal site known as Qasr al-Yahud on the banks of the Jordan River

Do you and I need to be baptized?

It is one thing you can do that pleases God. Not, in the ritual alone but in the awareness that repentance is a cross-cultural human necessity. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” from Romans 3:23. Baptism is our way of saying we are John’s and Jesus’ followers too. We have a shift from self-lead lives to God lead lives in water baptism. If you have a desire to live for God and call Jesus the Messiah, I can’t see a way around it. It is hard to forget if you are a willing participant.

Warning Land Mines

This is a safety precaution that will soon no longer needed near this holy site.

Interesting side note. This past year the site in Israel and Jordan, where tradition says, Jesus was baptized, has become more public. (Learn more here.) In the tensions of war in 1967-1968 mines and booby, traps were set, and it has been unsafe since to visit. In 2019 an international team began the removal. It has brought world attention again to Jesus’ baptism. Here is a cool 3 min. video too.

Sweeping for Mins

2019 Effort to clean up the mines and traps near Qasr al-Yahud has kept it safe from destruction.

Have you been baptized? Were you a willing participant like Jesus? Did you go to the waters recognizing a need for a life change? If not, please get baptized and become a part of a group of other disciples of Jesus. Email me if you are near Columbus, Ohio. The Church Next Door would love to help you take that step.