The Baptism of Jesus Matthew 3:13-17
John had been baptizing those who were repenting and turning to God. Now Jesus comes to be baptized by John. What an honor, right? John, however, understood that Jesus was the Messiah and did not need to repent of anything or turn to God, as was the requirement for baptism (Matthew 3:6). If anything, John understood his own sin and believed he should be baptized by Jesus not the other way around.
How did Jesus change John’s mind?
What happens after the baptism is relayed by Matthew in a beautiful picture of words that describe the love, joy, and pleasure that God took in seeing His son baptized – a symbol of being buried in death and raised to life. He also describes a scene of God’s Spirit descending like a dove, which one of my favorite Bible references describes like this:
God the Father immediately responds to Jesus’ baptism in a powerful way. As Jesus emerges from being fully immersed in the water of the Jordan River, the heavens are opened. Jesus sees God the Holy Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and coming to rest on Him.
It’s unclear from the descriptions in the other Gospels whether only Jesus saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descend. This might have been witnessed by everyone present. Or, perhaps it was only perceived by Jesus and John (John 1:32). Luke does specify that the Holy Spirit took solid, bodily form (Luke 3:22). However, the phrase “like a dove” can either refer to the visual appearance of the Spirit, or to the manner in which the Spirit descended. As such, it’s not explicitly clear that the Holy Spirit looked like a literal dove.Bibleref.com in regard to Matthew 3:16
While John’s experience with Jesus is unique to only him, I am reminded what a privilege it is to serve God/Jesus in any way. I am equally convicted to remember the privilege and have a humble spirit like John, who surrendered to serve/baptizing as Christ requested – knowing, as Jesus told him, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”