The Red Letters of Jesus
Teachings Spoken by Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew

Baptism of Jesus - (Matthew 3:15)

But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." - (Matthew 3:15)

John the Baptist was the forerunner, sent to prepare the hearts of the people to receive their king. In ancient times, when a king wished to visit a certain area of their kingdom, they would send a forerunner. This was either a single person or group of people who would travel ahead of the king. Their job was to tell the people of the kings soon arrival and to prepare the hearts of the people, and to make the people ready to meet their king. And that''s the role John the Baptist fulfilled in the kingdom of God. John told the people about the One, whose sandal laces he was unfit to loosen. The One who would baptize people with the Holy Spirit, instead of the water used by John. The baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist signals the beginning of Jesus'' ministry. John did not want to baptize Jesus because of His awareness of Who Jesus was. However, Jesus told John that it was right for Him to participate in the baptism at this time in order to fulfill all righteousness. The phrase, "to fulfill all righteousness," has a very special meaning, especially in the context of John''s role as the forerunner, and in Jesus ministry during His first advent, as He ushered in the kingdom of God. We have to first understand that the Law of Moses and the Levitical system had no requirements regarding baptism. This meant that from the point of view of Judaism, Jesus had no need to be baptized, not to mention the fact that Jesus alone was fully God and fully man, therefore His baptism did not serve the purpose of cleansing or justification.

Rather, Jesus permits it because it was fitting that as the Messiah of God, the Anointed One who is bringing in the righteousness of God, for Him to be baptized by John in order to identify with those seeking repentance, God''s righteousness and the kingdom of God. It was therefore within the will of God, that Jesus receives baptism by John in order that He could be more fully identified (the real meaning of the word "baptized") with sinners. This is an important concept for us to understand as Christians, because when we are baptized, we are "identifying" with the death and resurrection of Jesus. And our rising out of the baptismal waters is symbolic of our having been raised to a new life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Moreover, we see the significance of Jesus allowing John to baptize Him, as this act of submission to the Father''s will is validated from Heaven. When Jesus came up out of the water the heaven''s opened up, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the appearance of a dove, and the Father spoke from Heaven saying, "this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And with His baptism, Jesus not only begins His earthly ministry, but we get a glimpse of the Godhead and the Trinity as God the Father, God the Son, who is Jesus and God the Spirit who is the Holy Spirit are all present. The Baptism of Jesus not only showed us His identification with sinners, but it also gave us a foreshadowing of His death and resurrection, as the voice of God the Father in Heaven and the presence of the Holy Spirit gave testimony of Jesus'' position as the Messiah of God.

Scripture taken from the Modern King James Version of the Holy Bible Copyright © 1962 - 1998 By Jay P. Green, Sr.
Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.