Baptism is something that has marked the response of people to Jesus for 2000 years. In the New Testament, every time someone started following Jesus, they were baptized. For those who have decided to follow Jesus, baptism is the next step. There are two fundamental purposes of baptism. In Christianity, baptism is not intended to be a private experience. When you claimed Jesus as your personal Savior, it was an intensely private experience. But once you have entered the family of God, there is nothing private about it. You are a part of the Church, the Body of Christ, brothers and sisters related together in God’s family. Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptism is significant. The Baptism our Lord feast day is celebrated in the Catholic Church as well as the Anglican and Lutheran churches on the first Sunday following Epiphany to commemorate the baptism of Jesus by John. We can learn a great deal through Jesus’ astonishing act. Here are eight reasons Jesus’ baptism is important.
It is the fulfillment of prophesy.
When Jesus was about 30 years old, he visited John the Baptist at the Jordan River. This was some six months after John began his preaching and it was not merely to pay a friendly visit, nor for Jesus to know how John’s work is progressing. Jesus comes to ask John to baptize him. However, John understandably rejects. John says, “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you, and you are coming to me?” (Matthew 3:14). John is aware that Jesus is God’s special Son. He also understands that the baptism he is performing is for those repenting of their sins. Yet, Jesus is without sin. Despite John’s objection, Jesus insists saying, “Let it be this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous” (Matthew 3:15).
The Bible tells us, “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 lighting 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). John was the voice crying out in the wilderness, prophesied by Isaiah, calling people to repentance in preparation for Jesus. John baptizing Jesus was a declaration to all that here was the One they had been waiting for, the One he had predicted would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).
It is a reminder that Jesus identified with sinners.
Jesus was without sin but still completed this act. Through his baptism, he is showing that He is connected with sinners – sinners like you and me. When a person is baptized, they are choosing new life in Christ. When we are baptized we are able to walk in new life. Jesus joins us in baptism showing us that He’s right there with us. We can’t walk this journey of faith alone. When John hesitated to baptize the sinless Son of God, Jesus replied that it was proper to “fulfill all righteousness.” Matthew 3:15 says, “But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented” (Matthew 3:15). Doing this alludes to the righteousness that He provides to all who come to Him to exchange their sin for His righteousness.
Jesus reminds us that our lives begin anew.
Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Jesus’ baptism reminds us that we are freed through the waters of baptism and our lives begin anew. When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, He “came up immediately from the water” (Matthew 3:16). This is important because of what it represents. Being placed in the water symbolizes a burial and rising from the water represents resurrection. According to the Scriptures, Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day. Jesus’ baptism also symbolizes our acknowledgment of the need for our old, sinful life to be buried and for us to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 3:6). We are transformed through the waters of baptism.
Baptism is a public declaration of faith.
Jesus’s baptism wasn’t a private event. It was very public. The same goes for us. In the Bible, only believers who placed their faith in Christ were baptized. These individuals were baptized as a public testimony of their faith and identification with Him. We see examples of this in Acts 2:38 where it says, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We also see this in Romans 6:3-4: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the death by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness…” Baptism is a decision, a statement of your faith and relationship with God.
It is our call as Christians.
Our baptism is more than just a symbol of our faith. It is also a powerful reminder of our call as Christians. Right before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave His disciples their marching orders. These were His final words to them – the things He really wanted them to remember until His return. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Because baptism is a symbol of God’s grace and because it is a way to publicly pledge our allegiance to Him, Jesus commands it for His disciples.
It is a reminder of our relationship with God.
Almost everything of spiritual significance that happens to you after your salvation happens in connection with your family – the extended family of God. That includes baptism. Baptism is an ordinance of the Church of Jesus Christ. John baptized people. People didn’t get baptized on their own. In the early Church, following the Lord in the waters of baptism was the official, public pronouncement that a person was a believer in Christ and was part of the Christian movement. When a person chooses baptism, they are saying, ‘I am not just a ‘lone ranger’ for Christ. I am part of God’s family.’ Such a person comes into a family of mutual commitment, love and relatedness to one another. Baptism is the next step in your journey with God. The Christian family is called to walk with you on this journey.
Jesus' baptism reflects our need for salvation.
Jesus affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation. John 3:5 says, “No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the spirit.” Christ commanded His disciples not only to preach the Gospel, but also to draw people to faith in Him and baptize those who are called. Salvation, commonly referred to as “being saved” means deliverance or redemption from sin and its consequences. We are told in Romans 5:8 that God demonstrated His love for us through the death of His son, because of our sins. Ephesians 2:5 tells us “even though we were dead because of our sins, [God] gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved.” In order to receive salvation, we have to be born again which happens through our baptism.
Baptism is a powerful symbol of God’s grace.
Jesus’ baptism is a powerful reminder of God’s grace. His baptism symbolized grace. When we choose baptism, we are made by righteous by God and live in a state of grace. We are in union with God because of His grace and love for us. Grace is one of the greatest things we receive from God through Jesus’ death. Understanding His grace will change you from the inside out. We are never sent anywhere without Jesus walking with us. The same goes for our baptism. We are not walking our faith journey alone. Jesus’ baptism takes Jesus right along on that journey with us. He didn’t have to but He wanted to so that He would walk even closer with us.
To be baptized is to accept the plan of salvation that Jesus offers us. In order to understand the steps we’re taking in our own baptism, it’s imperative that you understand the death and resurrection of Christ which points to our salvation. The Son of God was made human, and during His earthly life, He lived a perfect life without sin. He was baptized to connect with us. He died on the cross not because He wanted to but because we needed salvation. He was made to die for us. Amazingly, God raised Him from the dead into new life, and promises to resurrect us when Jesus comes again. The salvation we need is Jesus, and can only be accessed through Him. Baptism is one of the biggest steps in our journey.