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Why Jesus was Baptised & Why it Matters

Why Jesus was Baptised & Why it Matters

Okay – so have you ever wondered why Jesus was baptised? A perfect Jesus who has never sinned, who then submits to John the Baptist’s baptism of repentance.

At first, it doesn’t make sense … that is until we realise that God is saying something really, really important to us through this one, powerful act of submission by the Son of God.

The Problem with Authority …

Deep down, most of us struggle with authority from time to time.

Authority’s fine, until you disagree with the person in authority. It’s fine having a boss at work until you want to go in this direction – when she wants you to go in that direction. And so we have our little silent protests. We resist. We pout. We undermine. We back stab. And eventually, it breaks out into open warfare.

Because our base position is – I’m right and she’s wrong. I’m always right!! It’s my way or the highway!!

Now we have a problem. We struggle, we complain, we become demotivated.

Sound vaguely familiar??

So what’s Jesus’ take on authority?

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptised by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. (Matt 3:13-15)

Now these days, we kind of understand what baptism is. It’s an outward sign that we’ve died to self and risen to Christ. It’s a public expression of our faith in Jesus.

But back then, the only people who were baptised were proselytes – these were people who weren’t born as Israelites, God’s chosen people, but who had put their faith in the God of Israel. It was a sign that even though they weren’t Jewish by birth, they had become one of God’s people through faith in Him and that they would submit to the authority of the law of Moses.

Yet John the Baptist wasn’t baptising proselytes. He’d been out in the wilderness baptising Jews. Why?

Because God’s people had strayed and so John’s baptism was a sign of repentance, of turning away from their sins and back to their God. A re-committal to God – a bit like a couple renewing their marriage vows, if that makes sense.

So Johnno was right to protest:

Hang on Jesus what are you doing? You’re the Messiah, your Him! What am I doing baptising you for crying out loud. If anything it should be the other way around!

And Jesus’ answer?

Let it be so for now  – for it is proper in this way to fulfil all righteousness.

So the Point is?

Why did Jesus submit to John’s Baptism, the baptism of repentance, even though as the one man who had never, ever sinned, He had nothing to repent from?

Because this was the single most public, most visible thing He could do to declare His submission to God, through the law of Moses. He wanted the world to know that He, although the Son of God, fully submitted, fully placed Himself under the authority of the Word of God.

Jesus had come to die for us – the perfect sacrifice so that you and I could become the perfect righteousness of God; so that you and I when we put our faith in Him, could have a complete, perfect and forever right-standing before God.

And His very first step on that journey was an act of humble submission to fulfil righteousness, to fulfil the law rather than to destroy it. That’s a powerful truth!

So … how did His Dad in heaven react? What was God the Father’s response?

And when Jesus had been baptised, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matt 3:16,17)

What an endorsement!

Imagine for a minute that you and I lived our lives for that; for God’s endorsement. To please Him. To delight Him by humbling ourselves; by putting our lives under His mighty hand in complete submission. By heeding His voice. By loving Him. By obeying Him.

Imagine if that’s the first thing we did – the very first thing – before stepping out into what God has planned for our lives.

Just imagine the impact our lives would have.

Not such a bad first step … into an extraordinary life, eh?


  1. When I was baptised 30 years ago I dived into the pool after being prayed over etc. When I told a guy that was at my church this he told me I needed to be rebaptised. I said I didn’t see why as I was eager to be a son of the God I had always believed in. So he told me to pray about it. I have a few things that worry me. When trying to find a church in this town the only one practising after God had closed down and split because the pastor there said he thought people should be baptised forwards, ( something to do with the womb and obviously unscriptual ). Now this guy is not going to the church anymore and I am not interested in why not. I am a bit suspect about him and his motives. As God is raising up a work in my shop, and while my only desire is to serve in a humble way and not to become a pastor etc. His is to have his own church. I love him as a brother in Christ and interact with him as we should operating in love. So when I saw this blog I thought I would run it past and see what comes back as I prayed and don’t think God has a problem with me not going in backwards as Jesus did. Brent

  2. Greetings Berni and all brothers and sisters,
    All Bernie said on this topic is right. But I would also like to mention 2 things we learn from the topic. First, We look at John whom was the son of a priest named Zacharias (Luke 1:5), this would make John a priest according to Jewish customs and he was also chosen by God to be “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight” (Mark 1:3). Now our Lord Jesus has started his mission (preaching and healing) right after his Baptism. When He said to John “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.” What this meant was that our Lord was telling John that your earthly priesthood which was based on sacrificing animal blood to forgive sins has been fulfilled (Ended), a new Priesthood chosen from above is starting right now with me being the High Priest whom will give my Body and Blood as the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins of all mankind. Our Lord is both Human and God and this baptism had to be passed on to his Humanity as to fulfil Jewish customs and both His Priesthood and Baptism were confirmed when a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:16, 17). This Priesthood was then passed from our Lord to his Disciples and were told to go and baptise all nations in the name of the Lord and make Disciples so the Holy Church was established from then after.
    Second, at the moment of this event The Holy Trinity was reviled to us when our Lord (God the Son) was present, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him (Holy Spirit) and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (God the Father) confirming God the Son.
    Now to all my brothers and sister on this blog,
    I would like to say that Baptism is so important for any Christian. Baptism is not just a ceremony, it is like a Citizenship which a Christian person needs to hold in order to enter the Kingdome of God. This Citizenship has its own duties we Christians fulfil and obey, these duties are Love our God from all our heart and soul and love our neighbours, show compassion to one another and so many other things that our Lord Jesus is asking us to do in His Holy Scripture. Just like our earthly citizenship, if we don’t obey its rules and responsibilities in whichever country we live in, that citizenship will be stripped from us and we may face prison (Hel).
    God bless.

    • thanku george for a well explained comment God bless

  3. Hi Sheena,

    Totally Absolutely Agree with you…

    “I just believe that baptism is extremely important and sacred when done out of genuine faith and commitment.”

    I meant to say that some consider Baptism essential for salvation, and that’s not the case. So I used the word “useless”, if you do NOT have faith and obey God’s commands, then what’s the point of Baptism?

    I’m wondering if Berni has time to start a online forum…hehehe

    And Yes, Berni, Totally agree…

    We’re saved by God’s grace…clear example…When Jesus was on the cross saving that thief next to him…

    Luke 23:39-43

    39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

    40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?

    41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

    42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[b]”

    43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

  4. Great blog Berni. Very good. 🙂

  5. Hey Berni,

    I read this passage last night and asked God the exact same question as to why Jesus was baptised. God is amazing in that He responded so quickly and succinctly. I struggle big time in submitting to authority so a very timely message.


  6. Hi all

    Another reason I have heard which makes sense is that Jesus was baptised to fulfill/cover the needs of those who can’t physically get to be baptised (but still would like to) – eg: someone who repents on their death bed.
    So in a way it covers those who wanted to be baptised but couldn’t get to the water.

    • HI Alfred,

      thanks for your comment, but I can’t agree with it. We do not need to be baptised to be saved – God’s grace is sufficient for us. We are not saved by water baptism but by faith in Jesus. Did Jesus command us to repent and be baptised? Yes. But baptism is not a precondition to salvation. This is really important, because to imply that it is, implies that the Cross is not sufficient, that God’s grace to us through Jesus is not sufficient.

      So, whilst you may have heard it … I’d ditch it if I were you.


      • Thanks Bernie.
        Yes agreed we are saved by God’s grace, not by our actions or works such as being dipped under water. I suppose to put it a better way is to say it is a public demonstration of our submission to God, since he has asked us to do this.

  7. I think it’s cool to be baptized, especialy in the winter time , can be very invigorating to the soul and spirt , praise god.

    • Terrence,

      yep I was baptised in May in a pool full of tap water.

      Baptists!! 🙂

      It was definitely both cool and invigorating, on a whole bunch of different levels.

      Bless ya

  8. Hi Berni,

    Another great post!!!…I’d like to add the following so it maybe help some readers of this blog to connect the dots…:)

    This post connects perfectly to your previous one of “The Spirit and You”.

    Baptism is merely a ceremony…and I will come back to this later…

    and adding to Matthew 3:16-17. Jesus received the Holy Spirit not from the act of submerging into water, but from praying…

    Luke 3:21, When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying , heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove

    What does this mean…?,
    Baptism is almost like a ceremony in which you’re celebrating and acknowledging that you have received the Spirit. Almost like a marriage ceremony of Two people being in Love.

    Baptism is completely useless and it means nothing if there is no Spirit involved. A bit like getting married without Love.

    And God points this out in…

    Romans 2:13
    “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous”
    Romans 2:27
    The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker
    Romans 2:29
    No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

    And Like Berni said…, The Problem is with Authority…

    It’s within our “Evil” Nature that we always want to question GOD.
    Why this GOD? Why that GOD? I’m Right?

    in other words, It’s within our nature to always want to “DISOBEY” GOD.
    And GOD absolutely knows this…, and to help us, to give us the strength to obey and have faith in HIM. He gives us the most powerful weapon to combat your lack of faith in GOD and this is the Holy Spirit

    And the only way to receive the spirit…is by seeking GOD through prayer and bible reading.

    We’re all Baptized by Heart the moment We receive the Spirit!!!

    • Dear Mr Lu

      Im sure it wasnt your intention but I think we should be careful not to call that which is holy and sacred “useless” and “merely a ceremony”. Although baptism on its own without faith and as you said without the Spirit cannot save, it is still a command of God to be baptised as an outward sign of reoentance and commitment to Him. Just as a wedding ceremony is the public showing of forsaking all others and committing to your spouse. I would take calling it “useless” and “merely a ceremony” the same as saying that marriage is just a piece of paper and we may aswell just live together because we love each other and are committed. But if we are not willing to go through with the “ceremony” are we really committed? Going through with baptism without love and commitment to God would be pointless, that is true just as getting married without love and commitment would be pointless and not a real marrige but mere words.
      It was a command given by Jesus to be baptised and to baptise others as they are discipled, it was an example given by Jesus for us to follow in that he went through it first and if we ar genuinely following Him we need to submit to His example and teaching. If Jesus was baptised and calls us to be then it cannot be deemed as useless and a mere ceremony. Otherwise should we view communion in the same way? Its not my intention to start a debate or argument but I just dont believe that we should be irreverent about that which is holy and sacred.

      I know that for me personally, baptism was the turning point, although I realise this is not the case for all. I would have considered myself a Christian before I was baptised- I believed and was seeking the Lord diligently and had understood the gospel, had even tried and tried to repent of my sins and turn from them, however I was still holding onto things and it wasnt until I made a full commitment, which was signified and publicly made by baptism, that I was able to let go of the old life completely and began to follow Jesus with wholehearted obedience and commitment. Not that I was perfect after baptism but my commitment to surrender to God in everything was secured.

      Im sure that your commitment is strong also and I remember reading another reply of yours to one of Berni’s posts previously and was greatly moved by it. I hope that I havent offended you, I just believe that baptism is extremely important and sacred when done out of genuine faith and commitment.

      God bless and you also Berni. Keep up the great posts!!

      • Confucius say “People who write comments longer than the original post should start their own blog!”


    • What translation do you use? It appears someone has rendered it differently, and inaccurately.

      • I generally use the NRSV – but I routinely paraphrase having studied the underlying meaning of the Hebrew or Greek texts for myself, so that probably explains it. 🙂

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