Why Was Jesus Baptized?
Baptism deals not only with
our sin, but with our entire
living apart from God
Why did Jesus need to be baptized?
We ourselves surely need to be baptized, to deal with our sins and our fallen living in the past. But Jesus had no sin (John 8:46, 2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 4:15), and His living was perfect in every way. So, why did He need to be baptized?
To answer this question accurately we must first have a clear understanding of what God wants from us as Christians. That is, He is not merely seeking for people who lead good, clean, upright lives. Rather, He desires that we would express His divine nature through our human nature (2 Pet. 1:4). That is why He created us in the first place.
As Christians, we should have a deep sense within of how wrong it is for us to express ourselves in anything. Even our love and kindness, if it is only something of ourselves, is not pleasing to God; He is only pleased in His Son (Matt. 3:17, 17:5), and in the expression of His Son through us (Gal. 1:15-16). Even our trying to be good and to serve God, by depending on ourselves and our self-effort, is in reality a rebellion against what He has ordained for us (cf. Rom. 10:3-4).
Thus, our spiritual baptism into Christ, which in terms of our experience takes place when we believe in Him, and is portrayed in our water baptism, puts our entire natural “old man” to death (Rom. 6:6); not only that part which is sinful, but also that part which is good, but apart from God:
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
— Romans 6:3-4
And this explains why Jesus needed to be baptized. Unlike us, He could have lived a good, even perfect, life apart from God. Instead, as indicated by His baptism, He chose to live a life of absolute dependence on the Father. As He Himself said later:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”
— John 5:19
And this also explains, as we mentioned in our previous Note (“Why Did Job Suffer?”), the deeper meaning of suffering in our lives: it helps to bring us into the experience of our baptism, and of our co-death with Christ.
Because now our Lord calls us to follow Him in this life of absolute dependence; that is, just as He lived by the Father, He calls us to live today by Him and by His divine life:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
— John 15:5
If we truly love the Lord, we will answer His call and give up our independent living, so that Christ may live again through us, in His resurrection life. We will say, as the Apostle Paul did:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
— Galatians 2:20
May this be our declaration as well, and our living day by day!
Yet, how can we practically enter into the experience of such a living? That is what we will consider in our next Note.
— Up Next —
“Broken by God”
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— 27 October 2021 —