The Baptism of Jesus

I, Davezelenka, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bible Study #11, Based on Luke 3:21-22

In my previous posts, I discussed Luke 3:1-20 and Luke 3:23-38, but I did not discuss Luke 3:21-22. I did this on purpose, because I see a connection between Luke 3:21-22 and chapter 4.

The baptism of our Lord is a very significant event; but, throughout the years, I have heard very little about it. Therefore, in this post, I want to explore this event from Luke’s point of view.

We know that John the Baptist was preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Luke 3:3). We also know that Jesus never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21), and that John the Baptist did not believe Jesus needed to be baptized by him: instead, John believed he needed to be baptized by Jesus (Matthew 3:14).

Nevertheless, Jesus believed he ought to be baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). This does not mean that Jesus needed to repent of any sin: that would contradict everything Luke and the rest of the New Testament writers were trying to communicate. Instead, it is much more likely that Jesus wanted to be baptized because, just as he obeyed the Law since he was born under the Law (Galatians 4:4), he also wanted to obey baptism since he had been born under baptism also (in other words, God’s command to Israel was that all should be baptized by John).

However, unlike Matthew, Luke does not appear to be interested in this matter. Luke does not bring up John’s objection to Jesus being baptized and Jesus’s insisance on being baptized. Instead, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is baptized as one of the many, one from among all the people. However, immediately after Jesus had emerged from the water, as he was praying, (1) the heavens were opened, (2) the Holy Spirit descended on him in the visible form of a dove, and (3) the voice of God from heaven declared that Jesus is His Son, in whom He is pleased.

Most of us have read this passage several times, but maybe we have missed how truly great this passage is. This passage records the very moment in history when God revealed the identity of his Messiah, thus fulfilling Isaiah 42:1, the very moment in which a supernatural event took place to tell people that Jesus is the one who is given as a covenant to Israel and as a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6), and the moment very moment in which God poured his Spirit upon his servant, the Messiah (Isaiah 42:1).

Now, there is nothing in Isaiah 42 that talks about John the Baptist and his baptism of repentance, and there is nothing in Isaiah 42 that talks about Jesus being baptized and the Holy Spirit descending upon him in the bodily form of a dove. There really was no way to know how exactly Isaiah 42 would be fulfilled. Nevertheless, God opened the heavens, poured his Spirit on Jesus, and spoke so that all who heard him would know that this one man, Jesus of Nazareth, was the Christ. This is truly a glorious moment in all history!

This, then, is the moment in which Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit to do God’s work as announced in Isaiah 42, and everything that happens thereafter in Luke 4 (and in the rest of the gospel) is an elaboration of how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 42.

Questions for Reflection

  • What did it mean for the people to be baptized? If you need help answering this question, look thorugh the previous Bible studies Luke 3.
  • Why is it important for us us to remember that Jesus never sinned?
  • How is Jesus’ real humanity reflected in the fact that Jesus received the Holy Spirit?
  • What else does Isaiah 42 reveal about the Messiah? Do you know how those aspects were fulfilled by Jesus?

Prayer Focus

  • Thank God for fulfilling His promises to send the Messiah to save Israel and all nations.
  • Praise God for all the amazing things His Spirit did through Jesus Christ.
  • Praise Jesus because He is sinless, and recognize Him as God’s Son.


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