“–He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove–” Matt. 3:16
Matthew 3: 13 – 15 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 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.
The quiet years in Nazareth were crucial to Jesus’ call as Saviour. He could not begin that phase of His earthly ministry until He had completed those early years of preparation. Now two requirements remained. He had to be baptized by John the Baptist and be tempted by Satan. Experiencing both of these events was essential if Jesus was going to carry out his mission as Saviour of the world. The baptism was the time of divine endorsement from the Father and the seal of Jesus’ commitment to become the atoning sacrifice for all mankind. The temptation demonstrates His resolve to take no other way to establish the Kingdom than the road to the Cross.
John must have received a divine revelation when Jesus came to be baptized. Something about Jesus must have had a striking effect upon those who love the truth and the light and they recognize their Creator because John did not want to baptize Jesus. He said that it was himself that should be baptized by Jesus. Another reason was that John’s baptism was for repentance and the remission of sins. Now the One coming to be baptized with the baptism of repentance was the sinless Son of God. How can John baptize Him? John finally understood that Jesus’ baptism was strictly as a substitute for the people, and he finally agreed.
To a certain extent all of humanity was baptized when Christ submitted himself to John’s baptism. This is precisely the unique role of Jesus’ baptism in God’s plan of salvation. It can never be repeated and its effect reaches every person throughout all the ages. Baptism and death are closely allied. That is why His substitutional baptism is an anticipation of His substitutional death on the cross. The baptism of Jesus was His ordination as Prophet, High Priest and King. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit and commissioned by the voice from heaven.
Jesus commanded that the baptism be performed in order to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus testified that John’s baptism was ordained by God. Those who refused to be baptized rejected for themselves the purposes of God. Jesus Himself was a Jew, born under the Law. Because of this, He had been circumcised and was now being baptized. Simultaneously, He was fulfilling the Law and introducing the new covenant of grace, which He Himself came to institute.