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The Baptism of Jesus
Read the Gospels side-by-side

Matthew 3:13-17


13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.


Mark 1:9-11


9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.


Luke 3:21-22


21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.





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Study Notes

1. John tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized.


The water baptism performed by John represented repentance for the remission of sins. People from all over came to the Jordan river to be baptized by John with the pupose of forgiveness for their sins. (Matthew 3:5-6)

John announced to the people, "with water I baptize those who repent of their sins; but someone else is coming, far greater than I am, so great that I am not worthy to carry his shoes!" (Matthew 3:11, NLT). He had just finished talking about the baptism of the coming Messiah, that His baptism would be much greater than his, when Jesus Himself appeared on the scene. John did not feel qualified for the task to baptize Jesus. John told Jesus that it was actually he (John) that should be baptized by Jesus and not the other way around. John knew that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah and was eager to submit to His authority.

If Jesus was without sin (1 Peter 2:22) why did He come to be baptized by John?

Jesus responded to John's protests by saying, "Permit it to be so now, for this it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3:15, NKJV)

2. Jesus was baptized because

(1) He was fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel 9:24 to be anointed by the Holy Ghost, which is confirmed by Acts 10:37-38

“Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.

(Daniel 9:24, NKJV)
37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:37-38, NKJV)

(2) He was personally confessing the sin of the nation, as Nehemiah, Ezra, Moses, and Daniel had done.

(3) He was showing support for what John was doing, adding credibility to John's message that he was "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.'" (Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:3, NKJV)

(4) He was inaugurating his public ministry

(5) He was identifying with the common people, not with the critical Pharisees and Saduccees who were just watching.

(6) He was portraying His coming ministry of death and resurrection.

3. The Trinity is represented at Jesus' baptism

God is three distinct Persons, yet He is One in essence. At Jesus' baptism, all three Persons were present and active.

(1) God the Father spoke

(2) God the Son was baptized

(3) God the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus

Other referenced to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit include Matthew 28:19, John 15:26, 1 Corinthians 12:4-13, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Ephesians 2:18, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5, and 1 Peter 1:2

4. Anointed by and with the Holy Spirit

Even though Jesus was fully God in every way and His divine nature needed nothing, and was sinless, in His humanity (his human nature) he needed to be anointed for service and granted strength for ministry. The Spirit of God came upon Jesus to anoint Him (Isaiah 61:1), thereby fulfilling the prophesies of the Scriptures, and it empowereed His humanness in a special way. It empowered Him to cast out demons (Matthew 12:28), to do miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 2:22), and to preach.

The image of the dove is one of a sacrificial animal. The rich of the time commonly sacrificed bullocks, while the middle class brought lambs for sacrifice. However, most of the people were poor and could only afford a dove.

5. The Father's Voice

Immediately, as Jesus came out of the water, the heavens opened and The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. God's voice was heard from the heavens, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17, KJV)

This heavenly pronouncement by God combined the prophecies of Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1:

“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Psalm 2:7, NKJV)

Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
(Isaiah 42:1, NKJV)

The final aspect of Jesus' baptism was the confirming words of the Father. A sacrifice must be pure, spotless, and without blemish to be acceptable to God (Exodus 12:5; Leviticus 1:3; Deuteronomy 17:1). At His baptism, Jesus willingly identified Himself with sinners. He was marked by the Holy Spirit as the dove of sacrifice, and the Father confirmed the sacrifice expressing His acceptance.

6. A Lesson in Submission

It is interesting and quite important to note that as Jesus was getting ready to begin His ministry, He submitted tot he authority of John the Baptist in His own baptism. Even though Jesus was the Son of God with all the power and glory that accompanies His authority, as man, he demonstrated respectful submision to John. This message contains an important lesson not only to ministers, pastors and those in authority in the church as they begin their ministry, but to all believers. We must all demonstrate respectful submission to authority and each other.

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KJV. Scripture taken from the King James Version. Pulbic Domain.
NKJV. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
NLT. New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
TLB. The Living Bible, copyright 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.


The MacArthur Study Bible. Word Publishing: Nashville, 1997
Life Application Bible. Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, Illinois, 1988
Life For Today Study Bible and Commentary - Gospels Edition. Andrew Wommack Ministries, Inc.: Colorado Springs, CO, 1992


Last Updated: September 9, 2012