Today we learn about the baptism of Jesus. While the baptism of repentance that John offered was important, the ministry of Jesus would be far greater. Jesus was God’s Son, and He would give believers the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself was sinless, but He was baptized by John to show His identification with the sinners He came to save.
“And he [John the Baptist] preached, saying, ‘There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'” (Mark 1:7-11)
Throughout his powerful ministry, we see that John the Baptist was always pointing people to Jesus. In the gospel of John, we read that John had great joy in the fact that his ministry would decrease so that Jesus’ would increase (John 3:29-30). In today’s verses, Mark tells us that John did not even think himself worthy of removing Jesus’ sandals, a job that would have been done by slaves. When we really see Jesus as the Holy One of God that He is, all we can do is fall at His feet and worship, thankful that He loves us despite our unworthiness. John’s job was to prepare the way for Jesus by softening the people’s hearts. But Jesus would give those who believe in Him the Holy Spirit. This was fulfilled in the book of Acts when God sent the Holy Spirit on the church at Pentecost (Acts 2). He then continued to give the Holy Spirit to people as they repented and believed in Jesus. For the rest of church history (including today), Jesus would give the wonderful gift of God’s own Holy Spirit to all those who placed saving faith in Him.
Why did Jesus submit to be baptized? We know from Matthew’s gospel that John at first refused to baptize Jesus (Matthew 3:14). He recognized that Jesus was God, and thus without sin. So why would Jesus submit to a baptism of repentance? It was symbolic. Jesus was showing that He would take our sins upon Himself. He would die, be buried, and rise from the dead. With His baptism, Jesus went down into the water (buried in death), and then rose out of the water (raised to newness of life). Jesus’ baptism was showing us the gospel! The voice then came from His Father in heaven, showing the people that Jesus was not just a prophet or teacher; He was truly God’s Son. This was the official beginning of the earthly, public ministry of Jesus Christ.
Our lives and ministries should point people to Jesus. God has surrounded you with family, friends, neighbors, and teammates. Some people in your world know the Lord, but some do not. When someone compliments us on something good that we do or say, we should say (and really believe) that it is Christ in us who is good, not us. Tell them about the Jesus who has changed your life. Tell them about your Lord and Savior who died for you and rose again. When people see our good works, we don’t want them to glorify us. We want them to glorify our Father in heaven and His Son with whom He is well pleased. Pray for God to let Your light shine for Him today.