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The Baptism of Jesus: Jesus and John the Baptist in a Juncture

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The baptism of Jesus was a crucial point in his life and ministry. It is recorded in the synoptic gospels with some variations. Baptism was established by Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19. Since then, it had been part of the practices of the church in the book Acts. However, baptism is already observed even before this. It was part of the initiation for Gentile converts to Jewish faith. John the Baptist practiced baptism as well, though it was intended to prepare his followers for the coming of Jesus rather than to usher people to live a life of purity (BBD). Baptism means ‘to immerse or submerge for washing and cleansing’ (βαπτίζω, baptizō) (Strong-Lite)

Did John the Baptist Know Jesus?

John 1:29-34 gives us a hint of John the Baptist’s knowledge of Jesus. Verse 31 & 33 state that he did not know him. We cannot ascertain the full meaning of this confession. However, we know that their mothers were relatives (Luke 1:36) or cousins (KJV). We saw their closeness when they spent three months together. (Read more: Mary Visits Elizabeth: An Amazing Support System for Two Women in Unusual Circumstances [Luke 1:39-56])  Using this as our premise, we can therefore infer that, as they were growing up, Jesus and John had known each other. They probably lost track of each other when John went to the wilderness to prepare for his public ministry (Luke 1:80). Thus, he failed to recognize Jesus when they met at the Jordan River at the time of the baptism (Matt. 3: 13).

It is safe also to assume that John was not ignorant about the Messiah. In fact it was clear to him that he was to prepare his coming but his knowledge of Jesus was obscured and was not quite sure if he was indeed the Messiah (Barnes).

John the Baptist and Jesus in a Juncture

According to the vocabulary.com ‘a juncture is a crucial point in time when a decision must be made.’ This was exactly what happened between John the Baptist and Jesus. John was aware of the superior status of Jesus and therefore he was hesitant to baptize him but Jesus insisted (Matt. 3:13-15). Another reason why John hesitated was probably because he knew that Jesus had no sin to repent of.

Jesus’ decision to submit himself to John’s baptism can be viewed in three ways:

First, it was a recognition and approval of John’s ministry. For John, this was the climax of his mission. It was a rewarding task when he finally consented to baptize the Messiah. You can just imagine the emotion he must have felt, just like what Simeon felt during Jesus’ dedication.

Second, it was a declaration of his solidarity with the people who believed in John and submitted themselves to the same baptism. This brings us to the third, for in so doing, Jesus successfully established his connection with John, his forerunner.

Thus, Jesus’ decision to proceed with the baptism by John at that juncture proved his connection and recognition with him and his people.

The greatest connection and recognition however, was that which came from his Father saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17 NIV)

 

References:

Bible Gateway: biblegateway.com

vocabulary.com

MySword Bible for Strong-Lite and Barnes, MySword for Android

The Word for Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

 

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