Why Was Jesus Baptized?

Baptism in a lake

I was just thinking about a conversation I had once with an Evangelical-Lutheran Pastor once about Baptism. He told me of an interesting story that his had Bishop told him:

“People are treading water and drowning in a body of water. Then, Jesus comes by with a boat and lifts each person into the boat (baptism is getting into the boat). Now, the people in the boat have a choice…they can either help row, or kick back in the bottom and relax…doesn’t really matter which it is, for the point is that they’re in the boat, and, according to the Bishop, being in the boat means you’re saved. (So in other words, the boat actually represents the Kingdom).”

I guess that’s a pretty good description…if you believe in cheap grace and that baptism brings salvation…but I don’t. Also, in prayer, I was reminded that Jesus was also baptized. So was Jesus outside of salvation? No, of course not. But then why, according to the Bishop’s example, did Jesus need to be baptized? Also, if Jesus was in the water, then who was rowing the boat, and who helped Jesus into it? And theologically-speaking, would Jesus really need a boat?

Now, we’ve all heard the term “Blood is thicker than water,” right? Well I would like to look at something that one of my professors while in seminary suggested: “Water is thicker than blood.”  Now think about that for a moment, water is thicker than blood. In saying this, he was pointing to the idea that it’s in the water of baptism that we’re all united into the Body…the Church…the fellowship of believers. We’re SAVED by the BLOOD of Jesus, and we’re UNITED with one another by the WATER of our baptism, and salvation comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ, not from baptism.

So why was Jesus baptized? Why did He need to be? Even John the Baptist was confused when Jesus told him that he had to baptize Him. Jesus’ told John that it was to “fulfill all righteousness,” and many (Pastors, commentaries, etc.) have tried to explain this more, suggesting that Jesus was setting an example for us: He was born of a woman, grew up as a child, had a relationship with the Father, was baptized, took Eucharist, died, and was resurrected. So His baptism was an example to us, sort of as a process to set into motion. That makes sense, and would put a deeper meaning to Jesus’ words, “Follow Me”.  But I have another thought (which came to me in prayer one early morning): If we’re to look at my professor’s suggestion that water is thicker than blood, as well as Paul’s words, that we’re united together in Christ through baptism, then maybe the reason Jesus needed to be baptized was also so that He too would be united with us in baptism. For since Jesus is the Head of His Body (the Body of Christ), and we (those of us who’ve accepted and entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ) are all members of His Body, then wouldn’t it make sense for Him to be baptized, too?

As for the decision of the new crew in comparison with cheap grace and salvation: I think Judas is a good example of somebody who decided not to row. John mentions in 12:6 that Judas continued in his old ways of stealing. So then, because of his lack of dedication and participation in the Body, Judas ended up being unfaithful to Jesus, fell away from Him, and traded Him off for silver coins…now, we don’t really know what happened to Judas after he committed suicide…is he now in Heaven or Hell? We know the Apostles called him a devil and said that he got what he deserved, but yet he did walk with Jesus, was baptized by Jesus, performed miracles, etc…but the point is, he didn’t row. So, as the saying goes, was he “in the same boat” as the others?

1 Comment

  1. In general, we are all “in the same boat”…Isaiah 64:6–“But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags”, which is why we all need Jesus for salvation (and then baptism, and I do think Jesus was baptized to set an example, so that we would have a good understanding and truly follow Him). If we believers do see Judas Iscariot in Heaven, I think he may have some splaining to do.

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