Jesus’ Life and Ministry
ABOUT six months after John begins preaching, Jesus, who is now 30 years old, comes to him at the Jordan. For what reason? To pay a social visit? Is Jesus simply interested in how John’s work is progressing? No, Jesus asks John to baptize him.
Right away John objects. “I am the one needing to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?” he asks. John knows that his cousin Jesus is God’s special Son. Why, John had jumped with gladness in his mother’s belly when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visited them! John’s mother Elizabeth no doubt later told him about this. And she would also have told him about the angel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth and about the appearance of angels to shepherds the night he was born.
So Jesus is no stranger to John. And John knows that his baptism is not for Jesus. It is for those repenting of their sins, but Jesus is without sin. Yet, despite John’s objection, Jesus insists: “Let it be, this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.”
Why is it right for Jesus to be baptized? Because Jesus’ baptism is a symbol, not of repentance for sins, but of his presenting himself to do the will of his Father. Jesus was a carpenter, but now the time has come for him to begin the ministry that God sent him to earth to perform. Do you think John expected anything unusual to happen when he baptized Jesus?
Well, John later reported: “The very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one that baptizes in holy spirit.’” So John was expecting God’s spirit to come upon someone he baptized. Perhaps, therefore, he was not really surprised when, as Jesus came up from the water, ‘God’s spirit came upon him like a dove.’
But more than that happened at Jesus’ baptism. The heavens were opened to Jesus, and a voice said: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” Whose voice was that? Jesus’ own voice? Of course not! It was God’s. Clearly, Jesus is God’s Son, not God himself, as some people claim. Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-23; 1:34-36, 44; 2:10-14; John 1:32-34; Hebrews 10:5-9.
◆ Why was Jesus no stranger to John?
◆ Since he had committed no sins, why was Jesus baptized?
◆ In view of what John knew about Jesus, why may he not have been surprised when God’s spirit came upon Jesus?