“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” Mark 1:9-11
When Jesus was baptized, something unique happened. All of the others who had gone out to the Jordan River to be baptized by John had been confessing their sins. As they confessed these sins, as they were receiving John’s baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, it was like their sins were coming out of them and sitting there in the muddy water of the Jordan. Every tax collector, thug, prostitute, swindler, cheat, and robber had their sins leave them and stay in the water.
But then a different kind of Man came along. This Man had no sins to confess. John knew that He had no sins, so he said to this Man, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14) He knew that Jesus didn’t need to repent of anything, and yet here He was, in the same water where sinners had confessed their sins and left them there to drown. But Jesus insisted, saying, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15) So, because Jesus said that it was fitting and that it would fulfill all righteousness, John baptized Him. It’s when this happened that we read; “he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”
When Jesus was baptized, it was different. The others had left their sins in the water. Jesus soaked them up. He took all of the sins that the tax collectors, thugs, prostitutes, swindlers, cheats, and robbers had confessed and He put them on His own shoulders. He drew them up out of the water and He carried them all the way to the cross. That’s what it meant, “to fulfill all righteousness”—it meant making all of us holy.
Jesus didn’t stop with bearing the sins of people in His own time. He carries our sins as well. When we’re baptized, our sins are washed off, left in the water, where Jesus picks them up. He took our sins and nailed them to the cross. We’re left spotless and pure. In fact, because of Jesus taking away our sins, our heavenly Father says to us, “You are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased,” “You are my beloved daughter, with you I am well pleased.” Because we’re forgiven in Jesus, the Father speaks these words to each of us and He sends us the Holy Spirit to create and protect our faith. We’re made His children because we’ve been baptized and given Jesus’ forgiveness, where He takes all of our sin and gives us His own perfect righteousness.
Father in heaven, at the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River You proclaimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Make all we who are baptized in His name faithful in our calling as Your children and bring us to inherit with Him everlasting life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.