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Why was Jesus baptised?

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When He came to be immersed in the Jordan River, Yochanan would have hindered him, saying, I have need to be baptized of you, and you come to me?

(Mt. 3:14)

The Baptizer recognized that Yeshua was the Messiah, and thus there was nothing for which He needed to repent. He would also have had no need to come back to God; He is God. So why would Yeshua bother to subject Himself to Yochanan’s baptism in light of the fact that He had no need for repentance? As will be shown in this work, every major event in Yeshua’s life (birth, baptism, transfiguration, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, etc.) carries theological implications.

There are six theologically relevant reasons for Yeshua’s baptism, four of which come directly from the context of the three Gospel accounts of the immersion:

  1. Yeshua’s baptism was to fulfil all righteousness (Mt. 3:15). Righteousness, by definition, is consistently living with and perfectly conforming to an absolute standard, and the standard at this point was the Mosaic Law. By being baptized, the Messiah identified Himself with the righteousness of the law, showing that He would fulfil all of its righteous demands.
  2. Yeshua was baptized to identify Himself with what Yochanan was preaching—that the people needed to prepare for the coming of the kingdom. Therefore, Yeshua identified Himself with this message.
  3. His baptism publicly identified Him to Israel; He was publicly authenticated as the Messiah both verbally and visibly.
  4. He was baptized to be identified with believers. Those who were the believing remnant of Israel in that day were responding to Yochanan’s message and being baptized. Thus, Yeshua identified Himself with this group.
  5. His baptism identified Him with sinners, as it says in II Corinthians 5:21: Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him. He took upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh to be identified with sinners.
  6. At His baptism, He would receive a special anointing by the Holy Spirit: even Yeshua of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him (Acts 10:38)

From: Yeshua: The Life of Messiah from a Messianic Jewish Perspective. The Abridged Version p90 -91

By Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum

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