John 1:32-34 — The Baptism of Jesus

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

We reflected upon this passage yesterday and looked at the testimony of John. Today we will examine the reasons why Jesus was baptized. After all, John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. So why did Jesus, who was without sin, submit himself to John's baptism? 

Jesus' decision to undergo John's baptism demonstrated his solidarity with humanity and his willingness to identify with our fallen condition. By participating in the baptism of repentance, Jesus aligned himself with those who recognized their need for forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Jesus fully embraced the human experience through his baptism and entered our brokenness. And having done that, he would go on to die as a sinner even though he, himself, would be without sin. 

Another reason has to do with the release of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was given to chosen people, for a selected time, for a specific purpose. But Jesus' baptism released God's Spirit in a new way. Now the Holy Spirit would be available to all who believed. Jesus showed us that in our baptism, we would receive the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that came to rest upon him. 

The Holy Spirit would enable us to lead the lives of holiness that all of us are called to lead. When Jesus walked upon this earth, he walked as man, a human like us. He was, as Scripture attests, tempted in every way as we are (see Hebrews 4:25). Yet, he did not sin. With the power of the Holy Spirit, we, too, can walk upon this earth as he did, living a life of purity and power. 

Jesus' baptism also served to give witness to the Holy Trinity. Gospel writer Matthew writes: 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 alighting 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). This manifestation of the Holy Trinity at Jesus' baptism further confirmed Jesus' divine nature and his unique role in salvation history.

As we reflect on Jesus' baptism, let us think about the depths of his love and the humility with which he approached his mission. If we were to identify with other people's struggles and extend a hand of love, this world would be a very different place. And heaven will be filled with more people.

God bless you.