Why was Jesus baptized? He gives us the answer which, to my surprise, so few people delve into. Let's take a look
Matthew 3:13-15, "Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?' But Jesus answering said to him, 'Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he permitted Him."
So, we can see that the reason Jesus was baptized was to "fulfill all righteousness." But, when we read the phrase, "fulfill all righteousness," you must understand that he was referring to the Old Testament. After all, Jesus came to fulfill the law (Matthew 1:22; 2:15; 5:17; 12:17-21; 13:35; 26:56; Mark 14:49; Luke 4:17-21; 22:37; 24: 44; John 13:18; 15:25; 19:24, 28-36; etc.). So, what was he talking about when he mentioned that he had to "fulfill all righteousness?"
When we look at what Jesus went through his baptism, and then we compare it with the Old Testament, we can see that he was most probably baptized in order to fulfill the legal requirements to enter into the priesthood. He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Heb. 5:8-10; 6:20). Priests offered sacrifice to God on behalf of the people. Jesus became a sacrifice for our sin (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21) in His role as priest.
What is baptism? Baptism is a ceremony where a person is identified with Christ's death and resurrection (Romans 6:4). The proper baptismal formula is as Jesus taught in Matthew 28:19, "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It signifies and seals our ingrafting into Christ and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of Grace and our engagement to be His.
Quite simply, Jesus was baptized so he could enter into the Melchizedek priesthood, so He could be the High Priest and offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
In Matthew 3:13-15 it says, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?' Jesus replied, 'Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.'" Jesus got baptized to fulfill all righteousness.
Exodus 29:1-7, "This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams without defect. And from fine wheat flour, without yeast, make bread, and cakes mixed with oil, and wafers spread with oil. Put them in a basket and present them in it--along with the bull and the two rams. Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and wash them with water. Take the garments and dress Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod itself and the breast piece. Fasten the ephod on him by its skillfully woven waistband. Put the turban on his head and attach the sacred diadem to the turban. Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head."
Oil is a type of the Holy Spirit: "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth . . . As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him." (1 John 2:20, 27).
The Holy Spirit descended from heaven as a dove and rested upon Jesus (Matt. 3:16).
So, to repeat the opening statement, Jesus was baptized because He had to fulfill the legal requirements for entering into the priesthood. He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Heb. 5:8-10; 6:20). Priests offered sacrifice to God on behalf of the people. Jesus became a sacrifice for our sin (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21) in His role as priest.
To be consecrated as a priest, He had to be:
- Washed with water
- Exodus 29:1, 4, "This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams without defect" ... 4 “Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and wash them with water."
- Leviticus 8:6, "Then Moses had Aaron and his sons come near, and washed them with water."
- Numbers 8:7, "And thus you shall do to them, for their cleansing: sprinkle purifying water on them, and let them use a razor over their whole body, and wash their clothes, and they shall be clean."
- Matthew 3:16, "And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him."
- Anointed with oil (represents the anointing of the Holy Spirit)
- Exodus 29:7, "Then you shall take the anointing oil, and pour it on his head and anoint him."
- Leviticus 8:12, "Now the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls; then offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the Lord, to make atonement for the Levites."
- Matt. 3:16, "And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him."
- 1 John 2:20, 27, "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know ... 27 And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him."
Both of these were bestowed upon Jesus at His baptism. Additionally, He would have needed to be 30 years old.
- Numbers 4:1-3, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 2 'Take a census of the descendants of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their families, by their fathers’ households, 3 from thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old, all who enter the service to do the work in the tent of meeting.'"
This was fulfilled in...
- Luke 3:21-23, "Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” 23 And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Eli..."
A verbal blessing was given.
- Exodus 39:43, "And Moses examined all the work and behold, they had done it (regarding the tabernacle); just as the Lord had commanded, this they had done. So Moses blessed them."
- Numbers 6:22-27, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: 24 The Lord bless you, and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’ 27 “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.”
- Matthew 3:17, "and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'”
"Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets," (Amos 3:7).