The Baptism of Jesus

When Jesus was about 30 years old, God called his cousin John, the son of Zechariah, to preach. He started preaching in the area around the Jordan River where no one lived. But when people heard about him, they started coming out to listen to him preach. He was saying, "Repent" (that is, change your hearts and lives), "Because the kingdom of heaven is coming soon." People were telling of the sins they had done wrong, and John was dipping them in the Jordan River so that God would forgive their sins. That is why people started calling him John the Baptist and John the Baptizer, because the word "baptize" means "to dip in water."

John also told the people: "there is a person coming later who is greater than I am. I am not good enough to kneel down and unite his shoes. I am dipping you in water. But that person who is coming will dip you in the Holy Spirit." John did not know at that time who that person would be, but God told him, "You will see the spirit come down and rest on a man. That man us the one who will dip people in the Holy Spirit."

At that time Jesus came from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the place where John was. He wanted John to baptize him, that is, to dip him in water. John knew that Jesus was a good man, and so he tried to stop him. He told Jesus, "I need to be baptized by you! Why do you come to me?" Jesus answered, "Let it be this way for now. For in this way it is proper for us to complete everything that is right." So John agreed to baptize Jesus.

Now after John had dipped Jesus in the Jordan River, Jesus came up out of the water and started praying. And the sky opened and the spirit of God came down in the form of a Dove and sat on Jesus. And a voice spoke from Heaven. It said, "This is my son, whom I love. I am very pleased with him." After that, John the Baptist started telling people that Jesus was the son of God.

Jesus is our example that we should follow. He was baptized to start his ministry of teaching and healing. In a similar way, we are baptized to start the Christian life. Christian's baptism, like John's baptism, is a dipping in water. Both are for forgiveness of sins" (Acts 2:38; mark 1:4) that is, done so that God will forgive our sins. Of course, Jesus did not have any sins (Heb. 4:15); he never did wrong. He was not baptized to have his sins forgiven; rather, he was baptized to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15), that is, to do everything that was right. He had always done what was right. Since God had commanded John to baptize people, this was the right thing to do. And Jesus wanted to do "Everything" that was right. We who have already sinned cannot be baptized to do "Everything" that is right. But if you have not yet been baptized, you can do this one thing right, that is, be baptized like Jesus was. And God promises that he will then forgive your sins (Acts 2:38). Even more, he promises that when your are dipped in water in the name of Jesus Christ, he will give you the holy spirit (Acts 2:38; 5:32) to help you not sin (Rom. 8:13).

If you are a follower of Jesus who has had water sprinkled or poured on your head instead of being dipped in water, you need to follow the example of Jesus by being dipped in water like he was. Sprinkling and pouring water on people's heads are practices started by men that keep people from doing what Jesus said to do-that is, be dipped in water. In Matthew 15:1-9 Jesus taught that if people obey the teachings of men instead of the teachings of God, their worship is vain, that is, empty. How much better it is to follow the example of Jesus, and be pleasing to God.

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