Why Did Jesus Get Baptized?
Why did Jesus get baptized? If He was God and without sin why did He need to be baptized and forgiven of sin?
Good eye and very good question.
First of all, it’s vital to note that the baptism John the Baptist was offering is not the same as the Baptism we go through today. You see, John the Baptist (Johnny B. – to his friends) was calling folks to the baptismal rite of the Essene community (desert dwellers). Their baptismal rite was more of an “entrance rite (ritual)”. It was not as much about the forgiveness of sins as much as it was about coming into a community.
Remember, Christ had not yet died upon the cross, so the salvific (big word for “saving”) action and redemptive (forgiving and restoring) work of the Crucifixion and Resurrection had not yet occurred; that being the case, Christ’s remission of our sins through Baptism was not yet possible for the folks whom “Johnny B.” was baptizing.
Incidentally, that is why our Christian Baptism has two parts to the rite…both the coming into the community AND the remission of sin.
Christ was not in need of Baptism, at all – there you are correct. He submitted Himself to Baptism as He left His parents and community and claimed God as His Father. God the Father, in turn, claimed Jesus as His Son:
“It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” - Mark 1:9-13
By voluntarily getting baptized He not only offered an example, but He became and fulfilled all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Also, because He completely emptied Himself and “became like us in all things but sin”, the baptism was a manifestation (public way of making known) of His humanity (Phil. 2:7)
In Jesus’ time, the community that claimed you and that you claimed was everything…it had to do with your importance, prominence, occupation, upbringing, vocation, stature, reputation, safety, financial security, lineage, marriage…everything. To leave your community, like Jesus did, and claim a new “community” with God as Father is a huge statement. It wasn’t, however, that Jesus didn’t love His family or that He was leaving them behind – quite the contrary, by fulfilling His Divine Sonship, He was raising the dignity of His own family, especially His Mother Mary, to all new “heights” so to speak.
To read more about this check out the Catechism #1223-1226.
Great question. Thanks for asking it. Keep reading!
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