21 When everyone was being baptized, Jesus also was baptized. While he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit came down on him in bodily form like a dove. And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”
Luke’s introduction to Jesus was quick, right? He gave John 16 verses and Jesus only 2. But the unique thing about Jesus is, unlike everybody there, he isn’t being baptized for his own sins. In this moment, Jesus is not repenting, he is identifying. And right here in this moment, is the very first step Jesus takes toward the cross.
Think about it, here he is washed for sins he never committed and years later on the cross he will die for sins he never committed.
Jesus’ baptism is the curtain opening and the main character stepping on to the stage, the person everyone has been waiting to see – and when Jesus makes his public appearance, who do we see Jesus siding with? The Jerusalem temple? Organized religion? Ritual washing?
No, our Messiah sides with a punk rock street preacher. Jesus doesn’t appear in the cities and call to the people who live outside, he steps into the outside, he steps into the desert and he meets them there. Jesus joins John in the margins – he joins his people in the fringes.
Our Messiah is a Savior who isn’t afraid to get dirty.
And he isn’t turned away by dirty people.
Today Baptism is called an ordinance, in the Catholic church it’s called a sacrament. Both mean that Baptism is an outward sign of an inward faith.
So this raises a couple of questions:
1. Why should someone be baptized?
Because Jesus did, and no matter what I say next that’s still the best reason. Jesus is our teacher, he is our Rabbi and so like faithful disciples we should also be able to say that we are covered in his dust. We should follow our savior so close that his words and his actions rub off on us.
Second, we should be Baptized because Jesus said to, Matthew 28:19 Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
Baptism isn’t magic, it doesn’t do anything. I have had some people tell me, “My friend needs to get baptized.” No, they don’t.
Baptism is a public profession of faith. It’s an announcement that you are Christ’s follower. It’s a symbol of dying to your old life (by going under the water) and being reborn into a new life of following Jesus (by rising up out of the water). Baptism doesn’t save you, it’s just a marker that announces the beginning of your journey.
2. Who should be baptized?
Those who have accepted the message of Jesus.
The book of Acts shows Peter and Philip sharing the gospel of Jesus and the Bible says once a person accepted the message, they were baptized.
Acts 2:41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized.
Acts 8:12 After they came to believe Philip, who preached the good news about God’s kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
Second, baptism is for those who want to proclaim outwardly their commitment to follow Christ. Do you love Jesus like John loved Jesus? For Christ followers, putting on a robe, and stepping into the water is still one of the most beautiful actions to call a world to change.
Baptism is a form of evangelism. Don’t just agree to get baptized, invite someone to it. Invite everyone to it, “Hey, come watch me get baptized.”
“Cause it’s important to me, and you’re important to me and it would mean a lot if you were there.
That’s what we mean by a public profession – Jesus was baptized so that he could identify with the people who lived in this dark time. See, this is what makes Jesus so special.
Here we have John who elevates Jesus, and says, “Jesus is awesome, I am not even worthy to take off his shoes,” but when we meet Jesus, he isn’t a leader who stands on a stage with a cape and a crown, he doesn’t speak down to the masses or distance himself from his followers. Rather we see Jesus step down midst the people and we see him get wet and get baptized – and he doesn’t do it for himself, he does it for us – so that we can identify with Him.
So that we can have a King like us.
That’s a great way to think about baptism, Jesus did it to say, “I am like you.”
…and we do it today to say, “I want to be like Jesus.”