What Is the Significance of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus?
We Christians will be baptized when beginning to believe in the Lord. Though baptism is merely a ceremony, it represents that we officially return to the Lord Jesus, becoming a Christian. So baptism is an important matter for us believers. In Matthew 3:13–17 it says: “Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of you, and come you to me? And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him: And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” From the Scripture, we know that the Lord Jesus was baptized in Jordan. But what’s the significance of His baptism?
The word of God says: “At the beginning, when Jesus had yet to officially perform His ministry, like the disciples that followed Him, sometimes He also attended meetings, and sang hymns, gave praise, and read the Old Testament in the temple. After He was baptized and arose, the Spirit officially descended upon Him and began to work, revealing His identity and the ministry that He was to undertake. Prior to this, no one knew His identity, and apart from Mary, not even John knew. Jesus was 29 when He was baptized. After His baptism was completed, the heavens were opened, and a voice said: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ Once Jesus had been baptized, the Holy Spirit began to bear testimony to Him in this way. Before being baptized at the age of 29, He had lived the life of a normal person, eating when He was supposed to eat, sleeping and dressing normally, and nothing about Him was different from others, though of course, this was only to the fleshly eyes of man. Sometimes He too was weak, and sometimes He too could not discern things, just as it is written in the Bible: His intelligence grew together with His age. These words merely show that He had an ordinary and normal humanity, and that He was not especially different from other normal people. He had also grown up as a normal person, and there was nothing special about Him. Yet He was under the care and protection of God. After being baptized, He began to be tempted, after which He began to perform His ministry and to work, and became possessed of power, wisdom, and authority. This is not to say that the Holy Spirit did not work in Him before His baptism, or was not inside Him. Before His baptism the Holy Spirit also dwelt inside Him but had not officially begun to work, for there are limits to when God does His work and, moreover, normal people have a normal process of growing up. The Holy Spirit had always lived within Him. When Jesus was born, He was different from others, and a morning star appeared; prior to His birth, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him that Mary was to give birth to a male infant, and that the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit began His work, but this did not mean that the Holy Spirit had only just descended upon Jesus. The saying that the Holy Spirit descended like a dove upon Him is in reference to the official start of His ministry. The Spirit of God had been within Him before, but He had not yet begun to work, for the time had not arrived, and the Spirit did not begin to work rashly. The Spirit bore testimony to Him through baptism. When He arose from the water, the Spirit began to officially work in Him, which signified that God’s incarnate flesh had begun to fulfill His ministry, and had begun the work of redemption, that is, the Age of Grace had officially begun.”
This passage of words tells us John baptizing the Lord Jesus was a means through which the Holy Spirit bore testimony to Him. Before being baptized at the age of 29, from the outside the Lord Jesus had grown up in the same way as other normal people, living in normal humanity. Except for Mary, who was told by the angel, no one else knew that He was the incarnate God and even the Lord Jesus didn’t know that He was God Himself. In order to allow people to know the Lord Jesus’ identity, the Holy Spirit publicly testified through baptism that the Lord Jesus was the incarnate God. As recorded in the Bible, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him: And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16–17). After the Lord Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit began to officially work in Him and the Lord Jesus began to perform His ministry.
In addition, we can see that God incarnate was ordinary, normal, and not supernatural; He was humble and hidden and never showed Himself off. Before His baptism, the Lord Jesus had grown up as a normal person, learning and widening His knowledge in normal humanity; there was nothing supernatural about Him. In the meantime, the Holy Spirit raised up John to bring out among the Jews those who longed for the gospel of the kingdom of heaven and looked forward to the arrival of the Savior. God used John to pave and prepare the way for the Lord Jesus’ later work and preaching. When God’s time came, the Holy Spirit bore testimony to the Lord Jesus through baptism and then officially began to work in Him. Then the Lord Jesus began to fulfill His ministry, expressing the truth and doing the work of redemption. So there is extraordinary significance in the Lord Jesus’ baptism.
- Extended Reading:
- What Is the True Meaning of the Coming of the Son of Man?