Matthew 3:13-17 describes the the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptizer.
John the Baptizer was of priestly descent. His father, Zacharias was a priest and his mother, Elisabeth, was of the daughters of Aaron (Luke 1:5). John served as a forerunner to Jesus and his mission was the subject of Old Testament prophecy (Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1). John was born six months before Jesus and his birth was foretold by an angel.
Approximately 30 years between this passage and the last mention of Jesus (2:23). Jesus has remained in Nazareth until the proper time when he should be revealed to Israel. Luke’s temple episode is the only account which breaks the thirty-year silence from Jesus’ birth to his baptism (Luke 2:41-52).
John is taken aback by Jesus’ request to be baptized by John. John realizes that Jesus is superior to himself. Jesus does not need to be baptized for repentance, however, John does need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Matthew 3:11 (ESV) “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John recognized Jesus supremacy and that Jesus’ baptism was higher and great than his. Like John, we must recognize Jesus as God’s Son and confess our need to submit to him. We need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and the cleansing available to us through Jesus.
Jesus had no sin and had no reason to be baptized for the purpose of repentance from sin. This is clear by John’s response, the Father’s testimony, and Jesus’ victory over Satan’s temptation in 4:1-11. The purpose of the temptation is to show that Jesus is without sin. However, Jesus chose to submit to baptism to “fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus’ baptism was unique and unlike any other.
Jesus submitted to incarnation, birth, infancy, parents, Scriptures, Law, God, and to John’s baptism. John’s baptism was the latest stage in God’s redemptive plan. Just as Jesus was subject to circumcision, participation in the temple; he was subject to this latest God-given rite of obedience.
Jesus was baptized in order to obey God
Jesus was baptized in order to be revealed to Israel
Jesus was baptized in order to receive glory from the Father
Romans 5:19 (ESV) For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
Although Jesus submitted to baptism out of obedience to God, he had no sin which required repentance. We must trust the perfect righteousness of Jesus as the only basis for our forgiveness of sins and justification before God.
The Transfiguration is a parallel account to the baptism of Jesus: the Father speaks from heaven, Jesus is seen in his glory, he appears with Moses and Elijah (17:1-13).
Matthew 17:5 (ESV) He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Jesus has been shown to be the son of Abraham, the son of David, the son of Joseph, and now is publicly shown to be the Son of God.
The Trinity is represented at Jesus’ baptism. The Father speaks from heaven, the Son is baptized on earth, and the Spirit descends from heaven. This divine witness testifies to Jesus’ true identity as Son of God and his sinlessness.
Matthew 28:19 (ESV) 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,
John’s ministry was one of preparing for the coming of God (Isa. 40:1-3; Matt. 3:3). John has prepared the way for Jesus, who is God incarnate.
Fully recognize Jesus as Lord
Submit to Jesus’ purifying, transforming work
Rely only on the righteousness of Jesus for your salvation
Believe what God has said about Jesus