Matthew 3:16, 17
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
John and Jesus made their solemn way into the Jordan River. John still with his doubts but nonetheless, determined to fulfill this request by Jesus. I can picture them standing in the muddy river. John holding on to Jesus as both stood just over waste deep in the water. The people standing silently upon the bank of the river as John’s clear voice rings out. I now baptize you in the name of the Father, God almighty.
Slowly Christ is lowered backward into the water until he is completely buried. Then hesitating for only a moment, John lifts Jesus back out of the watery grave. This is an outward expression of our faith in Christ that symbolizes our death to self and our old self of sin, then when lifted up out of the water symbolizes our rebirth into the saving grace of Christ.
If baptism is an outward expression of our faith in Jesus and the dyeing of our old self of sin, why would Christ who never sinned request baptism. For Christ, he did it to be an example to us of what we should do upon accepting Christ as our savior and upon confessing out sins. But Christ was changing his role in life at the same time. Christ was also leaving behind his old life behind. He was leaving his home town, his family and his profession as a carpenter behind. He was beginning a new ministry.
The same should be for us. Some upon accepting Christ as their savior may also leave their friends and family and change their profession and enter into a life of ministry for their Lord and Savior.
Jesus upon coming out of the water, made his way toward the river bank. When upon the bank of the river he knelt down to pray (see Luke 3:21) the heaven was opened and the spirit of God descending like a dove and rested upon Jesus. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven saying, “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
John the beloved disciple of Jesus wrote in his gospel these word of John the Baptist. 32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me. ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)
Before baptism, the Holy Spirit can lead you and guide you unto all truth. The Holy Spirit can point out faults within your life that need correcting and can give you the power, the victory over those faults. But upon baptism, the Holy Spirit can now dwell within you and can use you to reach others for Christ. This is true baptism by water and the Spirit. The Spirit can now dwell within you and the light of Christ’s righteousness can shine out through you into a dark world to illuminate the way to heaven for others.
It is by baptism that we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and our purpose to walk in newness of life. In this way we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour. In this way we become His people, and are received as members into His church. Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reception of the Holy Spirit. It is by immersion in water and is contingent on an affirmation of faith in Jesus and evidence of repentance of sin by our changed life that shows we have accepted his forgiveness. Those that are truly repentant will want to follow the instructions in the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of its teachings. (Rom. 6:1–6; Col. 2:12, 13; Acts 16:30–33; 22:16; 2:38; Matt. 28:19, 20.)
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness . . . .