The Lord's Baptism

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John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord by baptizing people in the Jordan river. He encouraged them to repent—to cleanse their lives of evil. John told people, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I…. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Through baptism, John prepared people to receive the Lord as their Messiah.

Imagine John’s surprise when the Lord Himself came and wanted John to baptize Him! John protested but the Lord insisted. The voice from heaven and descent of the dove make it clear that the Lord’s baptism was unique.

The Story

Read about John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-6.

Read about the Lord’s baptism in Matthew 3:13-17.

Ideas for Discussion

  1. How did John the Baptist prepare the way for the Lord? (He baptized people in the Jordan River and encouraged them to repent.)
  2. What did John do when the Lord came to Him? (John recognized Him and didn’t think he should baptize Him. But the Lord asked John to do it, and he did.)
  3. What happened right after the Lord was baptized? (The spirit of God descended like a dove and “alighted” on Him—that is, landed on Him.)
  4. What did the voice from heaven say? (“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).)
  5. The Lord wanted to be baptized by John because He wanted to show us that baptism is important and is something we should do.
  6. When John baptized people, they walked into the Jordan River. Water is still used but baptism is done in a variety of ways now.
  7. What did the waters of the Jordan symbolize? (Water is the symbol for truth. The waters of the Jordan symbolized the truths of the Word that teach us about the Lord.)
  8. John and everyone else who saw or heard about the Lord’s baptism knew that He was the Messiah promised in the prophecies. (You may want to read the prophecy given in Isaiah 11:1-2.)
  9. Later in the gospel of Matthew, the Lord told His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
  10. There are many passages in the Word about water (truth) helping us cleanse our lives. Here is one: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean…. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Read more about the Lord’s baptism

When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened and John saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:21; John 1:32, 33). This was because baptism stands for regeneration and cleansing, and so does a dove. In heaven doves are often to be seen, and the angels know that they are correspondences of affections and consequently of thoughts about regeneration and cleansing (see True Christian Religion 144).

That baptism was commanded is made clearly evident by John’s baptizing in Jordan (Matt. 3:5, 6; Mark 1:4, 5), that the Lord our Savior Himself was baptized by John (Matt. 3:13-17), and finally that He commanded His disciples to baptize all nations (Matt. 28:19) (see True Christian Religion 668).

[John the Baptist] baptized in Jordan for the reason that entrance into the land of Canaan was through that river, and “the land of Canaan” symbolized the church…and so “the Jordan” symbolized introduction into the church (True Christian Religion 677:4)

John only introduced people into knowledges from the Word respecting the Lord, and thus prepared them to receive Him. But the Lord Himself regenerates a person by means of Divine truth and Divine good proceeding from Him (Apocalypse Explained 475:20).

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