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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ

Don Stewart :: If Jesus Was without Sin, Then Why Was He Baptized?

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If Jesus Was without Sin, Then Why Was He Baptized?

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Question 3

Before Jesus began His public ministry He came to John the Baptist for baptism. Matthew records this event as follows:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. (Matthew 3:13 NKJV)

The problem that this causes is that John’s baptism was one of “repentance.” John told the multitudes the purpose of his baptism:

I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11 NRSV)

If sinless, why did Jesus submit Himself to water baptism that had to do with repentance? Why would a sinless person want to be baptized with a baptism which spoke of repentance?

There are a couple of things that should be noted in answering this question. They are as follows.

1. He Fulfilled All Righteousness at His Baptism

First, we find that John the Baptist did not want to baptize Him. However, Jesus explained why He was baptized. It was to fulfill all righteousness. Matthew records the account as follows:

Jesus left Galilee and went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John kept objecting and said, “I ought to be baptized by you. Why have you come to me?” Jesus answered, “For now this is how it should be, because we must do all that God wants us to do.” Then John agreed. (Matthew 3:13-15 CEV)

Jesus’ life was to serve as a pattern, or example, to all believers. Those who trust Jesus Christ as their Savior are to follow Him in His behavior. Therefore, Jesus submitted to water baptism to establish a pattern for believers. John wrote,

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:6 NKJV)

Therefore, Jesus’ baptism set an example for those who were to follow; it was not to repent of any sins which He had committed.

2. Jesus Came Out of the Water Immediately

The Bible also emphasizes that Jesus came “immediately” out of the water after He was baptized. Matthew also wrote,

After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. (Matthew 3:16 NLT)

People stayed in the water to confess their sins. The fact that He came immediately out of the water is another indication that He had no sin. This is another indication the Jesus’ baptism was an example for us to follow, not a confession or admission of sin.

3. Jesus Had No Sin

Scripture is clear that Jesus Christ was without sin. Paul would later write to the Corinthians declaring this truth:

God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NET)

Among other reasons, this is why Jesus came out of the water immediately.

4. It Was unlike Any Other Baptism

Therefore, the baptism of Jesus Christ was unlike the baptism of anyone else. Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, had nothing to confess yet He submitted to John’s baptism. In doing so it was a fulfillment of the righteous requirements of the Law of God.

Summary – Question 3
If Jesus Was without Sin, Then Why Was He Baptized?

John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah, preached a baptism of repentance. People who came to him were to confess their sins in anticipation of the coming Messiah and His kingdom. Jesus, the One whom John spoke about, also came to John to be baptized by him.

However, John attempted to stop Him because John knew Jesus was without sin. Jesus explained the necessity of Him being baptized—it was to fulfill all righteousness. In other words, it was not to confess His sins but rather for another reason.

Thus, Jesus submitted to John’s baptism to set a pattern for believers to follow. The Bible says that those who believe in Jesus Christ are to walk as He walked. We are to pattern our Christian experience after His life. Therefore, in obedience to Him, we should also be baptized in water to make a public profession of our faith.

In addition, there is something else which we must note. The gospels tell us that Jesus came up immediately from the water. This is another indication that He had nothing to confess. His baptism was to set the pattern for us.

Therefore, the fact that Jesus Christ submitted to the baptism of John the Baptist, a baptism of repentance, had nothing to do with Him confessing sin.

Why Did Jesus Come at That Particular Time in History? ← Prior Section
Did Jesus Fulfill the Prophecies about the Messiah? Next Section →
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