Read: Matt 3:1-17
Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. Matt 3:13
Jesus spends His early years being a son and an apprentice to His father in the carpentry shop. Like all good Hebrew boys I’m sure He spent time in school at the synagogue and learned the Scriptures. But now He’s 30 years old and it’s time to start His public ministry.
He goes first to be baptized by John. This is an interesting move for the Son of God who was sinless. John’s baptism was about repentance and confession of sins. Jesus had nothing to repent from and no sins to confess. So why start His public ministry here?
Jesus was establishing the importance of baptism in the life of a believer. He didn’t need to be baptized, but every one of us does. Jesus knew we would all be looking to Him as an example. So He set the example. His disciples go on to baptize countless people throughout Jesus’ ministry. In the great commission (Matt 28) Jesus commands them to baptize people when they come to know Him. At Pentecost (Acts 2) 3000 place their faith in Jesus and are baptized that day. And throughout the New Testament, we see the pattern of faith, repentance and baptism.
Jesus launches His ministry with baptism to demonstrate to us that we launch our faith through baptism. What I don’t know is why God chose this ceremonial rite as such an important step in the believer’s life. But I do know without a doubt that He did. Jesus demonstrated its significance, modeled it in His ministry, commanded His disciples to continue to do it after He left, and the New Testament accounts are full of this important practice.
The other thing that I know is how powerful baptism is today. Many times a year we baptize people at our church. We have a great video system that puts the baptisms on the screens in real time, while the congregation worships and sings. It is so powerful!!! God shows up every time, and I can hardly get through without crying. But not just me… the people being baptized and the people in the congregation too. It’s always a sacred moment that God pours Himself into.
Again, I don’t know why baptism is so important to God, but I am very sure that it is. So have you been baptized? You don’t have to be baptized to be saved (e.g. the thief on the cross), but you do need to be baptized to be obedient to Jesus, to follow His lead, and to take your next step toward God. If you haven’t, you need to get baptized as soon as you can.
If you have been baptized, celebrate loud the next time you get the privilege to witness someone else going under the water. It’s a powerful picture of the new life that God gives His kids when we turn from our sin and come home.
Jesus – thank you for the gift of baptism and all that it signifies and the way that you bless it. I choose again today to repent from my sins and turn to you. Will you fill me with the Holy Spirit, renew in me the joy of your salvation, and the thrill of helping others find and follow you. In Jesus’ name, amen.