John 1: 32-34 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
John the Baptist, we are told, was the designated front man for Jesus. He was to “prepare the way of the Lord.” John was an unusual man by all accounts. He lived in the wilderness, ate locusts and honey, let his hair grow, and was single-minded in purpose. We might call him eccentric, or a hippie, today. There was nothing wishy-washy about John; he called it like he saw it. He called out the religious and political leaders of the day and pointed out their shortcomings. This, of course, gained him few friends among the religious elite. He did, however, touch a very sensitive nerve with his followers. He proclaimed that the time had come for the Messiah and regularly baptized his followers to cleanse and prepare them for His coming. This is the first mention of baptism in the Bible. Why did he begin the practice? And, why did Jesus himself come to John for baptism?
The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of a three-year ministry. It also marked the end of the life Jesus had known. He was no longer the carpenter from Nazareth, the son of Mary and Joseph, a poor man from a nondescript town. Jesus emerged from the baptismal waters as the leader of a movement that would shake the world. He was one man with a mission so powerful that the mighty would bow and the humble would be exalted. It all started with the baptism.
Jesus emerged from the water to rejoicing in heaven. The anticipated day had finally arrived. Angels must have filled the heavenly realm with songs of sweet joy and adulation as Jesus accepted the mantle of Messiah. God himself expressed his pleasure as he proclaimed, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” The mighty Jehovah gave his stamp of approval for what was about to begin. Jesus was ready to accept the task which he came to earth to do. His mission was nothing less than to be the Savior of the world.
The babe in the manger was now a grown man and ready to take on a man’s work, a Messiah’s work. He may have come to us as a baby, but it is the man, the Savior of the world, who promises life eternal.