But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."
Then John consented.
Although I have read this scripture countless times in the past, I never understood why Jesus insisted upon the baptism of repentance by John. After all, He was without sin and had no need, as we do, for confession of our iniquities and being washed clean of them. I accepted Jesus' doing so according to His words, "to fulfill all righteousness". That was sufficient until today. Knowing how, and when, and by whom had been fine, but I suddenly, urgently, wanted to know why. Why was it necessary for Jesus to be baptized?
When I typed this question into that old reliable, Google Search, I discovered a wonderfully informative, yet concise article explaining why the baptism of Jesus was crucial to His ministry. I will provide you with the link at the end of this devotion if you would like to read in more detail, but I have paraphrased the commentary here:
- Public Recognition - John has been proclaiming Jesus' coming for quite some time. When he sees Him, he immediately knows who He is and acknowledges this before the crowds gathered there. "Here is the One I told you would come!"
- Identifying with Sinners - "His baptism symbolized the sinners' baptism into the righteousness of Christ, dying with Him and rising free from sin and able to walk in the newness of life." This is, ultimately, the fulfillment of all righteousness.
- Confirming John's Authority - By coming to John for baptism, Jesus is showing approval of him and his actions and confirming that he has God's blessing.
- Revelation of the Trinity - Matthew 3:16-17 - As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
Psalms 55 or 138, 139:1-17 (18-23)
1 Kings 18:41-19:8