Jesus’ baptism is recorded in the Bible books of Mark, Matthew, John and Luke. In this story, Jesus approaches John and asks to be baptized. John has been sharing the Gospel and baptizing people who want to repent their sins, make their relationship with God right, and await the coming Messiah. John is shocked that Jesus, the sin-free Son of God, is requesting to be baptized and feels like he should be asking Jesus to baptize him.

In all accounts, Jesus’ baptism was the first step Jesus took as He started His ministry, a three-year journey that would lead Him to the cross. According to Luke, Jesus was 30 years old when He was baptized. Jesus tells John that His baptism will fulfill all righteousness. He was baptized as a symbol of sacrificing His will to His Father and starting His earthly ministry. Matthew tells us that God affirmed Jesus’ baptism in a powerful way.

When Jesus was baptized and emerged from the water, the heavens opened, and John saw the Spirit of God descend like a dove upon Jesus. Then, they heard God’s voice from heaven say, “This is My Son, whom I have approved.” The Holy Spirit appeared on Jesus after His baptism as a sign that the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus’ ministry and would bring peace between God and humanity. As Jesus came from the water, God spoke highly of who Jesus was, leaving no question that Jesus was the beloved Son of God and the anticipated Messiah. Jesus didn’t need to turn from sin or repent.

Instead, His baptism served as a sign to future generations of believers and John that He was the Messiah. John’s mission to prepare the way for the Messiah was done with this confirmation in place. The story of Jesus’ baptism beautifully portrays the loving union of the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This moment in His life marked the start of His ministry, in which He participated in the human experience as the sinless lamb of God sent to save the world.

What is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is an influential and beautiful part of who God is. We need Him as a conduit to become who God wants us to be, and through His power, we have help in every situation. Without Him, we are helpless. Our first meeting with the Holy Spirit is when He convicts us of our sin, showing us that no one lives up to the righteousness of Jesus and sharing that judgment comes to those who die without a Savior, specifically in John 16:8-11. As we confess our sins, repent, and receive the gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit restores our dead inner human spirit, which becomes sensitive to the spiritual things of God.

The second work of the Holy Spirit is when He baptizes a believer, as detailed in Acts 2:1-4. It’s available for all and a gift of empowerment, assisting the believer to live a holy life. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, we become more like Jesus and are directed to do God’s will. Also, the gift is mainly for the empowerment to witness to others, as explained in Acts 1:8. We’re encouraged to ask the Holy Spirit to fill us up regularly.

Ask the Holy Spirit to replenish you when you need strength or feel depleted. It’s not enough to exist with the thought that the Father and Son are first and the Holy Spirit comes second. They’re equal and work with each other. The distinctiveness of the Holy Spirit is His presence within us. Before He ascended to heaven, Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come and live within us as believers. With that, the Holy Spirit empowers us to live for God’s glory and Christ’s cause.

Why did the Holy Spirit descend like a dove during Jesus’ baptism?

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all detail Jesus’ baptism by John at the Jordan River. In Luke, we read that the Holy Spirit came down like a dove on Him. Because the Holy Spirit is a spirit, He’s not visible to us. However, the Spirit took a visible form on this occasion and was seen by everyone. The dove symbolizes harmlessness and purity, as detailed in Matthew 10:16, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove at Jesus’ baptism signifies that the Spirit with which Jesu was given was one of innocence and holiness.

Another symbol involving the dove is in the story of Noah’s Ark and the flood in Genesis 6-8. When the earth was submerged in water for some time, Noah wanted to check and see if there was any dry land, so he sent out a dove from the ark. Genesis 8:11 tells us the dove returned with an olive branch in her beak. Since then, the olive branch has been seen as a peace symbol. The story of Noah’s dove reminds us that God declared peace with humanity after the flood purged the earth’s wickedness. The dove represents the Holy Spirit bringing the good news of the reconciliation of man and God.

Of course, this reconciliation is only temporary because lasting, spiritual reconciliation with God comes through Jesus. Still, the Holy Spirit was significantly pictured as a dove at Christ’s baptism, symbolizing peace with God. The Holy Spirit appeared as “tongues of fire” at Pentecost, according to Acts 2:3, to show the power of the apostles’ message and their changed lives. The Spirit’s appearance as a dove at Jesus’ baptism shows the gentle Savior bringing peace to humanity through His sacrifice.

Why is Jesus’ baptism important?

Jesus’ baptism showed that He related to sinners. It symbolized the sinners’ baptism into the righteousness of Christ, dying with Him and rising as free from sin, able to walk in life’s newness. Jesus’ perfect righteousness would fulfill all the requirements for those who could never hope to do so by themselves. When John hesitated to baptize Jesus, He told him it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness. By this, He referred to the righteousness provided by Him to those who come to Him to exchange their sins for His righteousness.

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