JESUS IS BAPTIZED AND ANOINTED
JEHOVAH DECLARES JESUS TO BE HIS SON
Some six months after John the Baptist begins preaching, Jesus, who is now about 30 years old, comes to him at the Jordan River. For what reason? It is not merely to pay a friendly visit. Nor does Jesus simply want to see how John’s work is progressing. No, Jesus comes to ask John to baptize him.
Understandably, John objects: “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?” (Matthew 3:14) John knows that Jesus is God’s special Son. Recall that while still in his mother’s womb, John had jumped with gladness when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, visited John’s mother, Elizabeth. No doubt John’s mother later told him about this. And he would also have learned about the angel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth and about the angels who appeared to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born.
John understands that the baptism he is performing is for those repenting of their sins. Yet Jesus is without sin. Despite John’s objection, Jesus insists: “Let it be this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.”
Why is it suitable for Jesus to be baptized? Jesus is not being baptized in symbol of repentance for sins. His baptism shows that he is presenting himself to do the will of his Father. (Hebrews 10:5-7) Jesus has been a carpenter, but now it is time for him to begin the ministry that his heavenly Father sent him to earth to perform. Do you think that John expects anything unusual to happen when he baptizes Jesus?
Well, John later reports: “The very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me: ‘Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one who baptizes in holy spirit.’” (John 1:33) So John is expecting God’s spirit to come upon someone he baptizes. Accordingly, once Jesus comes up from the water, John may not be surprised to see “God’s spirit descending like a dove and coming upon [Jesus].”
But more than that happens at Jesus’ baptism. ‘The heavens are opened up’ to him. What does this mean? Likely it means that at the time of Jesus’ baptism, the memory of his prehuman life in heaven returns to him. Thus, Jesus now recalls his life as a spirit son of Jehovah, including truths that God taught him in heaven before he came to earth.
In addition, at Jesus’ baptism a voice from heaven proclaims: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:17) Whose voice is that? It cannot be Jesus’ own voice; he is right there with John. That voice is God’s. Clearly, Jesus is God’s Son. He is not God himself.
It is noteworthy that Jesus is a human son of God, even as was the first man, Adam. The disciple Luke, after describing Jesus’ baptism, writes: “When Jesus began his work, he was about 30 years old, being the son, as the opinion was, of Joseph, son of Heli, . . . son of David, . . . son of Abraham, . . . son of Noah, . . . son of Adam, son of God.”
Just as Adam was a human “son of God,” so is Jesus. At his baptism, Jesus enters into a new relationship with God, becoming God’s spiritual Son. Thus, Jesus is in a position to teach divine truth and to show the way to life. Jesus is starting on a course that will in time lead to his laying down his human life in sacrifice in behalf of sinful humankind.