“I (John the Baptist) baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3: 11-12
Baptism, why the big deal? The short answer is Jesus, Himself, was baptized and He commands His followers to do likewise as a public testament of their faith. But, let’s go a bit deeper: why was Jesus baptized in the first place?
- Baptism launched Jesus’ earthly ministry.
When Jesus showed up and asked John the Baptist to baptism Him, John protested. How could he, a sinner, baptize the Holy One – the Messiah – who came to take away the sins of the world? But Jesus insisted. This was the way God would launch Jesus into ministry: through baptism. (Matthew 3: 13-15)
- Fulfillment of Prophesy.
John the Baptist had been preaching baptism as a testimony of the repentance of sin and the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 3: 11-12). But that’s not all, John’s desert ministry and the Messiah’s arrival had already been prophesied about in the Old Testament (Isaiah 40:3-5).
- Prophecy of what Jesus came to accomplish.
Going under the water represents Jesus’ death and burial, while emerging from the water signifies His victory over death. Jesus’ baptism was a prophetic foreshadowing of what was to come. It symbolizes the Gospel.
- Testimony of the Christian Faith
When we are baptized, we’re saying goodbye to our lives before Christ. The water that outwardly cleanses us, represents how Christ has cleansed our hearts of sin through His death and resurrection on the cross.
- Symbol of being made right with God.
Jesus said baptism was an example “to fulfill righteousness.” He commands us to do it as a symbol of how He makes us right with God thru faith in Him. That cannot happen before we become a Christian which is why we are to be baptized AFTER we decide to trust and follow Him. It’s a statement of our faith in Christ.
There were many reasons that Jesus chose to be baptized, however the most significant reason was because He loves us. Jesus chose to be baptized in order to identify with sinners like you and me. Can you imagine a love so great that the sinless Son of God would humble Himself to death on the cross for you and for me? If the Son of God, who had no sin, humbled Himself to identify with us sinners, why can’t you humble yourself to identify with Jesus through the symbol of Believer’s baptism?