Back to Course

In Need of a Savior

  1. Who is Jesus?
    3 Digging Deeper
  2. Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?
    3 Digging Deeper
  3. What is the Covenant Jesus Offers?
    3 Digging Deeper
  4. Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?
    3 Digging Deeper
  5. What Does Jesus' Resurrection Mean to Me?
    3 Digging Deeper
  6. Why Should I Be Like Jesus?
    3 Digging Deeper
  7. How Can I Find Life Through Death?
    3 Digging Deeper
  8. What Change Does God Expect of Me?
    3 Digging Deeper
  9. What Does it Mean to Repent?
    3 Digging Deeper
  10. How Can I Be Born Again?
    4 Digging Deeper

The story of Jesus’ baptism is recorded in all four gospels.  The fullest account is in Matthew 3:13-17:  

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (see additional details in Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, and John 1:29-34).  

John preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins“ (Mark 1:4).  Jesus was not a candidate for this baptism because he was not a sinner.  John recognized him as “the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  Jesus asked to be baptized “to fulfill all righteousness.”  By being baptized, Jesus would show his submission to the Father, identify with the sinners that he came to save, and be initiated into his ministry that began shortly.  

When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit in body form as a dove descended and rested on him and the Father confessed him audibly from heaven.  This is the time that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10:38).  The Father expressed his approval of and delight in Jesus by saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”  This statement combines the messianic prophecies of Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1.  

The unique baptism of Jesus, while different from our baptism, still teaches us powerful lessons.  Jesus was not a sinner, and no one else is the only begotten Son of the Father or receives the same divine empowerment at baptism.  However, it shows us that if Jesus, the perfect Son of God, wanted to be baptized, then how much more should we, who are sinners, want to obey God’s command and be baptized (Acts10:47-48).  If we refuse to be baptized, we reject the purpose of God for us (Luke 7:30).                   

Jesus commanded his apostles to ”make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).  The imperative command “make disciples” (the main verb) is fulfilled by two participles (helping verbs): “baptizing” and “teaching.”     

Ten days later on the day of Pentecost, this command was first obeyed when the apostles preached Jesus and the meaning of his death, resurrection and ascension to heaven (Acts 2:22-35).  They concluded, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (2:36). When the people heard this,  

They were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (2:37-38).   

 The apostles continued teaching these new believers who “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (2:42).  The apostles obeyed the command of Jesus to “make disciples” by “baptizing” and “teaching.”  These believers formed the first church (or, “assembly or community of believers”) that Jesus said he would build (Matthew 16:18).  During the next thirty years, the book of Acts records the dynamic growth of this church as these Christians continued “making disciples” by “baptizing” and “teaching.” 

Today, disciples are made the same way: The good news of Jesus is taught and those convicted of sins repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus. God forgives their sins and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Not in a miraculous way, like at Jesus’ baptism.  But as an indwelling of the Spirit in our hearts to help us grow into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:10-11; Galatians 5:22-25).