There is much speculation as to why Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan. Obviously He was without sin so at first glance John’s baptism of repentance can be a bit perplexing. But within the context of the atonement as identification rather than substitution as I presented it in my previous 2 posts things start to make a bit more sense. With Jesus identifying with man and the Spirit falling on Him we see the completed circle of identification. In the gospel of John we are told that the day after John the Baptist baptized Jesus, when he saw Him coming again, he said to the crowd… “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. “I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” This is remarkable, for it reveals that John understood through the vision of the dove that Jesus was identified with the Holy Spirit in His baptism. In Matthew’s account we also see the Father identifying with Jesus in this scene:-
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
So the water baptism of Jesus reveals to us the gospel message of Him identifying with man. It also reveals the Spirit as well as the Father identifying themselves with Jesus in order that we might be identified with them!
See part 1 in this series by clicking here
and part 2 by clicking here.
This post was adapted from chapter 8 in my book Seeing the Cross with New Eyes, page 128-129.