Matthew 3:13-17 - Why Was Jesus Baptized?

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
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.”

When we read today’s passage about the baptism of Jesus, a question immediately comes to mind. Why was Jesus baptized in the waters of the Jordan? Was it a purely a symbolic gesture? Was it because he needed sanctification? We have an answer from Maximus of Turin: “Christ is baptized, not that he may be sanctified in the waters, but that he may sanctify the waters, and by his own purification may purify those streams which he touches.” In a way, he consecrated baptism. Hence we can now follow him in confidence into the waters of our own baptism.

There’s another reason. The mission of Jesus was to save the lost; to save sinners. So, by being baptized, he showed his solidarity with sinful man. And having done that, he would go on to die as a sinner even though he, himself, would be without sin. A third 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 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. 

And, finally, through his baptism Jesus was letting us know of the hope the Father has in all of us. God created us in his image and likeness to be holy, pure, and perfect like he is. At the end of life’s journey, let us be able to say as Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). And as we approach the throne room of heaven, may God say to each and every one of us: “You are my beloved, with you I am well pleased.” 

Wouldn’t that be awesome?

May the Spirit be with you.