The baptism of Jesus
Jesus’ public life begins with his baptism by John in the
John preaches “a baptism of repentance for the forgive-
ness of sins.”
A crowd of sinners
—tax collectors and soldiers,
Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes—come to be baptized by
him. “Then Jesus appears.” The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists
and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove,
comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, “This is my
This is the manifestation (“Epiphany”) of Jesus as
Messiah of Israel and Son of God.
The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and
inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows
himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already “the Lamb of
God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
Already he is
anticipating the “baptism” of his bloody death.
Already he is
coming to “fulfill all righteousness,” that is, he is submitting him-
self entirely to his Father’s will: out of love he consents to this
baptism of death for the remission of our sins.
The Father’s voice
responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in
The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his
conception comes to “rest on him.”
Jesus will be the source of
the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism “the heavens were
—the heavens that Adam’s sin had closed—and the
waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a
prelude to the new creation.
Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimi-
lated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and
resurrection. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble
self–abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus
in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to
3:15; cf. 26:39.