What is the Real Reason for the Baptism of Christ?
The baptism of Christ, what was the reason or reasons for it, since Jesus was without sin? Have you ever asked yourself that question?
Did Jesus repent and is that why John the Baptist baptized him ?
Theologians and Christians have asked these questions through the ages.
However, the Holy Bible holds the answer. Even Jesus himself supplied a response to this question.
Nevertheless, in arriving at a biblical perspective let’s examine why John the Baptist baptized the people, then scrutinize how the baptism of Christ was different from theirs.
In our determination of John’s impetus, we must pursue, “the who.” Who really was John the Baptist? What was the Divine Purpose of his life?
He was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. His life’s purpose was to go before Jesus Christ and prepare “the way”(Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:10).
Shouldn’t the Prophets Mention the Baptism of Christ?
Isaiah spoke about the ministry of John the Baptist.
He described him as: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3).
However, we would not have known whom this Scripture above was referring to unless it told us. According to the Word of God, John the Baptist is “the voice”.
The Apostle Matthew identified and explained that John the Baptist is that voice that Isaiah prophesied would come (Matthew 3:1-4).
Jesus Christ also made plain the identical thing about John, (Matthew 11:10).
What did John Acknowledge About Himself?
But the best explanation is John’s own acknowledgment of who he is and his purpose. He attested of himself: “… I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias” (John 1:23).
That is the best. He said of himself whatever the Scriptures said of him. Who are you? How do you see yourself? See yourself through the eyes of the Lord: The Bible.
Whatever the Word of God declared you to be, say that of yourself. Why? You will possess p
In attempting to arrive at a biblical conclusion, concerning the real reason for the baptism of Christ, isn’t it strange that no prophet mentioned that the Messiah would need to repent? If he needed to repent they would have said it.
Before the Baptism of Christ He Revealed “Elijah the Prophet”
Similarly, another prophet of God, Malachi, foretold John’s purpose in life.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:4-5).
This “Elijah the prophet” is none other than John the Baptist. Jesus informed his disciples and us of this.
Jesus taught them: “if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come” (Matthew 11:14; Mark 9:11-13; Matthew 17:11-13).
Gabriel, the angel and
“And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:16-17).
The Lord God was Happy With the Baptism of Christ
Next, John’s objective was to prepare “the way of the Lord” by making His “paths” straight, (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3 & Luke 3:4).
God is not a man that he should travel on a “highway”. His highway is spiritual (Isaiah 40:3).
The way of the Lord is the heart of humanity. This is the “highway for our God”. This is how he traverse the earth by the highway of our hearts (Isaiah 40:3).
Therefore, the “paths” are the hearts of the people. There is one way of God but many paths.
They were in the wilderness of Judea with John.
We Cannot be Pleasing God and Needing Repentance
Therefore, John came preaching “repent”, which is the call to desist from evil deeds then turn to God.
From this perspective, there shouldn’t be any need to ask: Did Jesus repent? The Lord God was pleased with him; he had no need to repent.
You cannot be pleasing God and needing repentance simultaneously. They are mutually exclusive. It’s one or the other.
We know that the Lord God was happy with the baptism of Christ because He said as much after John baptized Him in Jordan.
Furthermore, John’s baptisms weren’t as a result of people repenting then being baptized. No, they were baptized with the hope that later they would repent.
John’s Reason for the Baptism of Christ was Different from that for the People
Consequently, according to Matthew, John preached and taught that “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance….” (Matthew 3:11).
However, later, you will see that his motive for the baptism of Christ was totally different from that for the people.
He baptized them while they were “confessing their sins”. Later, their baptism would remove their sins and confer repentance on all those baptized .
This was the “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3).
Baptism of Repentance for the Remission of Sins
After the resurrection of Jesus this would change, for we witness, through the Scriptures, that the Apostles of Jesus Christ taught the very opposite.
However, what motivated the change from “baptism of repentance” to “repent” and then “be baptized”?
Relating to this, I like the response on Billy Graham’s website.
Jesus went to John to be baptized.
John the Baptist expressed shock that Jesus would approach him and request baptism. The latter protested to the former that it was unnecessary but he reassured him that it was ok.
Just as it was unnecessary for John the Baptist himself to be baptized it was for Christ. Neither John nor Jesus needed to repent. The Lord sent both of them.
The Real Reason for the Baptism of Christ Revealed
However, “…Jesus answering said unto [John], Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him” (Matthew 3:15).
What does this mean relative to the baptism of Christ?
So, Jesus reassured John, saying allow it to be so now because we must fulfill all righteousness and he agreed.
Both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ fulfilled all righteousness of the Law and Prophets. How?
They attained this spiritual objective when the former baptized the latter in the River Jordan.
They were born under the Law. John was a prophet of God. He symbolised the end of the law for righteousness (Matthew 11:13 & Luke 16:16).
The heavenly requirements and the dictates of the Law, at that point in time, for the removal of sin was John’s baptism of repentance.
At that time, nobody was utilizing a name to teach and or to preach repentance and remission of sins.
The Baptism of Christ Introduced Something New
New requirements for righteousness were emerging.
In order for Jesus to justify the Law and be in sync with the requirements of heaven, then John had to baptize him under the Law.
Therefore, from the time of the baptism of Christ, the baptism of repentance ceased. John could no longer preach or baptize unto repentance. His era ended. So, the king placed him in prison and then executed him.
But the utilization of “a name” to preach and or teach repentance and removal of sins did not start until after the baptism of Christ and after his ascension into heaven.
Consequently, immediately before his ascension Jesus reminded his leaders: “…Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:46).
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
Repentance and Removal of Sin via a Name
This command was opposite to what John had preached and practiced.
Therefore, to fulfill the words of both Scriptures and that of Jesus Christ reflected in the verses above; the Apostle Peter was the first person to preach “repentance and remission of sins”, in the name of Jesus Christ at Jerusalem, (Acts 2:38).
Therefore, the baptism of the First Century Church was in stark contrast to John’s. Consequently, to enjoy the benefits of salvation Apostle Peter encouraged the people of Jerusalem to adhere to a new procedure:
Subsequently, he preached “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
The True Legacy of the Baptism of Christ Jesus in River Jordan
So after John, everything changed. People were no longer baptized to repent. The apostles commanded them to “repent” then “baptized”. And for the first time in history a name is employed and necessary for repentance and remission of sins.
This is the legacy of the baptism of Christ Jesus in River Jordan.
Later, an encounter with a Jewish-Christian Scholar, would prove this to be true.
For Apollos taught “knowing only the baptism of John”, but Aquila and Priscilla heard him and instructed him “more perfectly” in the Apostle’s Doctrine as stated above, (Acts 18:24-26).
“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:24-26).
Additionally, Jesus Christ declared that John the Baptist was one of the greatest persons born of a woman.
What else did the Baptism of Christ Change?
“Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist….” (Matthew 11:11).
The Lord himself provided the answer. He said: “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:13).
John signaled the end of an era. The prophets and the law no longer speak for God after John. Jesus speaks for Him since John.
Therefore, we read: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son ….” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
To recap, repentance is never a change of mind. But it’s a change of heart (spirit) then a turning to the Lord God. Therefore, the purpose one repents is in preparation for receiving the Lord God.
This essentially, was the fundamental objective of John the Baptist’ ministry.
However, the study of languages and of dictionary definitions for repent are of no help. The Bible is a spiritual book. They are inconsistent with the denotations and connotations of the Holy Scriptures as they relate to “repent” in the first century and before.
The Word of God does not change with the time. We cannot give the Bible a modern-day interpretation because languages have evolved with time. The Word that Jesus Christ has for us has not and will not change. There is no need to modernize the Bible to understand it and make it fit-our-time.
Did Jesus repent? No! He had no need for repentance. He was without sin.
New Speaker After the Baptism of Christ
The baptism of Christ by John in Jordan was to reveal the Messiah (the Christ) to Israel; to fulfil Scriptures; and to accomplish all righteousness.
So, John came baptizing to reveal Jesus Christ. He wanted the Jew to understand and realize that Jesus is the Messiah the Christ, (John 1:31). And not him.
Therefore, Jesus made and baptized more disciples than john. But still, they couldn’t perceive him.
John actions fulfilled Scriptures. He turned the hearts of many of the people to God through his preaching of “repent” and by baptizing them unto repentance.
Consequently, after the baptism of Christ John accomplished his purpose and a new era dawned.
Seeing that all the prophets and the law spoke “until John”, then after the baptism of Christ he spoke for God.
New Authority Emerges After the Baptism of Christ
For this reason Jesus often explained what the Law taught about a topic, such as divorce, loving your enemies, and being angry with another person without reason, then he explained: “But I say unto you” (Matthew 5:32; 5:44; 5:22).
He wanted the people to realize that he was now the voice of God to them. He is the authority of heaven and he replaced the laws and the prophets. Including John.
As a result, after the imprisonment of John and his silencing, the preaching of Jesus changed.
He stopped preaching saying: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17;).
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled ….” (Mark 1:14-15).
It is here now!
This is What the Baptism of Christ Did For You
Recall and understand fully what Jesus means when he says: “Think not that I am come to destroy the
This he accomplished by satisfying the Law’s requirement for the removal of sin. He had no sin but he took on himself “the sin of the World” or the “Sin of Adam” that he could pay the price of it for us, (John 1:29).
“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
There is no need to rely on what Jerome, or Tertullian or any other person said or even to make any inference about the reason for Jesus’ baptism by John. It’s all in the Word.
Consequently, we don’t need to ask: Did Jesus repent? You know he didn’t and you are aware of the reason for his baptism.
The Scriptures don’t contradict itself. People are at odds with them. Jesus couldn’t have repented because he was God who became a man.
Finally, Jesus’ baptism was also to remove sins but not his own but that of the world. And in so doing he satisfied the demands of the law for the removal of sins and simultaneously instituted a new procedure for remission of sins.
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name [the name of Jesus] among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).