Baptizing Jesus

Text: Matthew 3:13-17

Matthew recorded the occasion when Jesus came to be baptized of John. There are some important lessons to be learned from this event. Let us consider some of these in this lesson.

The Need to be Baptized of Christ (Matthew 3:14)

  • John said, “I have need to be baptized of You” – though he may not have had a complete understanding about baptism in the gospel age, he did have certain information that he had received from God that led him to this conclusion (Hebrews 1:1; Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:11)
  • It was not at this time, but in the future, that people would need to be baptized of Christ
  • Not the baptism of the Holy Spirit – this was limited in application (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44)
  • Christ’s baptism would be similar to John’s baptism – in water (Matthew 3:6; Acts 8:36), followed repentance (Matthew 3:2; Acts 2:38), for forgiveness (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38); the difference was that Christ’s baptism required belief in Him as the Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:36-38) and it put one into the kingdom (Acts 2:41, 47)
  • John never submitted to Christ’s baptism because he had already died before it came into effect (Matthew 14:1-12) – he was never part of the kingdom (Matthew 11:11)

The Humility of John (Matthew 3:14)

  • John had a large number of people coming out to see him (Mark 1:5) – yet he did not become conceited about this; he recognized that Jesus was greater than him (Mark 1:7) and later would send his own disciples away to follow Jesus (John 1:35-37)
  • We must have the humble spirit of John – recognize that the Lord is greater than we are (James 4:10); point people to Him, rather than to ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:5)

The Baptism of John was Temporary (Matthew 3:15)

  • When John initially protested, Jesus said, “Permit it at this time” – John’s baptism would not be in force forever (Acts 19:3-5); as time would go on, Jesus would increase and John would decrease (John 3:30)
  • Reminder of the importance of understanding time periods in the Bible – rightly divide the word (2 Timothy 2:15); God does not require us to build an ark, sacrifice bulls, or submit to John’s baptism, though those things were required at different times; we must follow what is for our time (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus was Baptized to Fulfill All Righteousness (Matthew 3:15)

  • John taught people to repent before they could be baptized (Matthew 3:2) – this was also “for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4)
  • Jesus never sinned (1 Peter 2:22) – nothing for Him to repent
  • His submission to John’s baptism was for the purpose of fulfilling all righteousness – He came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17); John’s baptism, though late, was part of that dispensation (Matthew 11:13)

The Father was Pleased with This (Matthew 3:16-17)

  • When Jesus came up from the water, the Father clearly indicated His approval (Matthew 3:17) – John indicated that he had already been told about this sign (John 1:32-34)
  • The Father indicated His approval by the word of His voice (Matthew 3:17) – He is not going to do the same today (speak out from heaven to express approval/disapproval); however, we can find what He approves by looking to His word in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17)


  • Though we do not submit to John’s baptism as Jesus did, there are important lessons for us to learn – pleasing God, following His word, respecting context, exercising humility, and submitting to Christ’s baptism
  • If you need to be baptized into Christ, we invite you to do that
  • If you have but have fallen away, we encourage you to come back to the Lord

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