A big question asked by many is, “Why did Jesus have to be baptized? There are a couple reasons. First, He came to set the example for us. Second, and more important, Jesus’ baptism was His rite of passage, inaugurating Him into the role of Messiah. Jesus was baptized by three things.
Jesus is baptized by…
Water — water baptism was the sign of ceremonial cleansing in the Jewish religion and the sign of initiation in many of the mystery religions in Jesus’ day. By being baptized by water, Jesus was proclaiming to the world that He was clean and that His heart was right before God. This is important since most of His enemies claimed that He was in league with Satan.
Spirit — In the Old Testament, whenever God called a leader to deliver His people from the slavery of sin, the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him and fill him with the strength and wisdom needed to accomplish the task. When the Spirit descended on Jesus, this was the sign to the people that Jesus was Yawheh’s appointed and annointed leader. After 400 years of silence, the Spirit of the Lord had returned!
Fire — A key theme in all of Jesus’ teachings is that of good fruit vs. bad fruit, of good works vs. bad works, of good wheat vs. weeds, of sheep vs. wolves. At the final day all people will be “tested by fire” to see what their lives were really made of. The fact that Jesus was tempted by Satan right after His baptism by water and the Spirit is His “baptism by fire.” By withstanding the temptations of the world — feeding the belly, feeding pride, and gaining power — Jesus was proven to be made of pure gold, without any dross, and worthy of leading the Kingdom of God.
We can have confidence that our King and our High Priest is not another faulty human that will eventually let us down. Jesus is the perfect Messiah who has passed through the fire and is capable of walking through the fire with us.