Jesus' Baptism by John - Bible Story Summary

Why was Jesus baptized by John?

Jesus' Baptism
Distant Shores Media/ Sweet Publishing

Before Jesus began his earthly ministry, John the Baptist was God's appointed messenger. John had been traveling around, announcing the coming of the Messiah to the people throughout the regions of Jerusalem and Judea. 

John called people to prepare for Messiah's coming and to repent, turn from their sins, and be baptized. He was pointing the way to Jesus Christ.

Until this time, Jesus had spent most of his earthly life in quiet obscurity. Suddenly, he appeared on the scene, walking up to John in the River Jordan. He came to John to be baptized, but John told him, "I need to be baptized by you." Like most of us, John wondered why Jesus had asked to be baptized.

Jesus replied: "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." While the meaning of this statement is somewhat unclear, it caused John to consented to baptize Jesus. Nevertheless, it confirms that Jesus' baptism was necessary to accomplish God's will.

After Jesus was baptized, as he came up from the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. God spoke from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

Points of Interest From the Story of Jesus' Baptism

John felt tremendously unqualified to do what Jesus had asked of him. As followers of Christ, we often feel inadequate to fulfill the mission God calls us to do.

Why did Jesus ask to be baptized? This question has puzzled Bible students throughout the ages.

Jesus was sinless; he did not need cleansing. No, the act of baptism was part of Christ mission in coming to earth. Like previous priests of God — Moses, Nehemiah, and Daniel — Jesus was confessing sin on behalf of the people of the world. Likewise, he was endorsing John's ministry of baptism.

Jesus' baptism was unique. It was different from the "baptism of repentance" that John had been performing. It was not a "Christian baptism" as we experience today. Christ's baptism was a step of obedience at the beginning of his public ministry to identify himself with John's message of repentance and the revival movement it had begun. 

By submitting to the waters of baptism, Jesus linked himself with those who were coming to John and repenting. He was setting an example for all of his followers as well.

Jesus baptism was also part of his preparation for Satan's temptation in the wilderness. Baptism was a foreshadowing of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. And lastly, Jesus was announcing the beginning of his ministry on earth.

Jesus' Baptism and the Trinity

The trinity doctrine was expressed in the account of Jesus' baptism:

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." (Matthew 3:16–17, NIV)

God the Father spoke from heaven, God the Son was baptized, and God the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove.

The dove was an immediate sign of approval from Jesus' heavenly family. All three members of the Trinity showed up to cheer Jesus on. The human beings present could see or hear their presence. All three bore witness to observers that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.

Question for Reflection

John had devoted his life to preparing for the arrival of Jesus. He had focused all of his energy on this moment. His heart was set on obedience. Yet, the very first thing Jesus asked him to do, John resisted.

John resisted because he felt unqualified, unworthy to do what Jesus had asked. Do you feel inadequate to fulfill your mission from God? John felt unworthy even to unfasten the shoes of Jesus, yet Jesus said John was the greatest of all prophets (Luke 7:28). Don't let your feelings of inadequacy hold you back from your God-appointed mission.

Scripture References to Jesus' Baptism

Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34.

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Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "Jesus' Baptism by John - Bible Story Summary." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, Fairchild, Mary. (2023, April 5). Jesus' Baptism by John - Bible Story Summary. Retrieved from Fairchild, Mary. "Jesus' Baptism by John - Bible Story Summary." Learn Religions. (accessed May 29, 2023).