Sunday, August 20, 2023

Why Was Jesus Baptized?

By David R. Ferguson
    What is baptism? Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It signifies and seals our ingrafting into Christ as partakers of the benefits of the covenant of grace. Quite simply, Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. In Matthew 3:13-15 it says, "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."
    Additionally, it’s possible that Jesus was baptized so He could enter into the Melchizedek priesthood to become the High Priest and offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Exodus 29:1-7 says, "Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them to minister as priests to Me: take one young bull and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread and unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil; you shall make them of fine wheat flour. And you shall put them in one basket, and present them in the basket along with the bull and the two rams. Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and wash them with water. And you shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the tunic and the robe of the ephod and the ephod and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod; and you shall set the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban. Then you shall take the anointing oil, and pour it on his head and anoint him." Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit: "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him." (1 John 2:20,27) The Holy Spirit descended from Heaven as a dove and rested upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16). Jesus was baptized because He had to fulfill the legal requirements for entering into the priesthood. He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:8-10; Hebrews 6:20). Priests offered sacrifice to God on behalf of the people. Jesus became a sacrifice for our sins (1 Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21) in His role as priest. Likewise, He may have needed to be 30 years old to enter the priesthood: "...from thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter upon the service, to do the work in the tent of meeting" (Numbers 4:3). To be consecrated as a priest, He had to be washed with water (Exodus 29:4, Leviticus 8:6; Matthew 3:16) and anointed with oil (Exodus 29:7; Leviticus 8:12; Matthew 3:16). Both of these were bestowed upon Jesus at His baptism. In all this, Jesus fulfilled “all righteousness.”

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: or

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