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The Baptism Of Christ

At the beginning of Christís ministry, Christ glorified the Father by going to the river Jordan to fulfill all righteousness. There, Christ submitted himself to John to be baptized in water. John said this after baptizing Christ,

  I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." John 1:31-34.

We also know that John was not the only person who saw the dove descend onto Jesus. Several witnesses saw the spirit of God land on Jesus in the same manner that a dove would. Luke investigated this event and found enough witnesses of his baptism to warrant saying that  some heard God from heaven above saying ,

This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22

The baptism of Christ was one of many times that God took an active part in introducing his Son to the world. At the river Jordan God revealed his son through a vision of something like a dove lighting upon Jesus. John said, the reason I came baptizing with water was that he (Christ) might be revealed to Israel. In Johnís narrative, God had previously given John a sign to identify Christ. In his own words John said, the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain on is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Those who saw the spirit descend and remain on Christ saw this event from a different perspective. They saw the spirit descend like a dove and heard the words of God introducing his son. You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." Luke 3:22.  God purposely introduced his Son to the world within a vision of visual and audible effects that no one could deny were from anyone but God.

Some say that God revealed his nature in three persons in this passage. Theologians use this vision to show that God has a physical existence of three persons saying that God is heard from heaven, Christ is seen in the river Jordan and the Holy Spirit is seen descending on Jesus like a dove. However, points like these are taken out of context and go beyond what is written through human reasoning.  Their interpretation of Christís baptism changes the intended purpose that God had. John said the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.  Johnís narrative reveals the true purpose of this vision was to reveal the person of Jesus Christ to mankind.

I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.  I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." John 1:31-34

The content of the passage above tells a different story and shows Godís expressed intent. The content of this passage can be discovered by the question the sentence answers. The chart below may help you to determine how to clarify the content of what is written.  In the right column of the chart below is a sentence written by John that we need to understand. In the left column is a question that the sentence answers.  

John said, I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel    Why John came baptizing?

I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. What did John see?

I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,  How did John know he had the right person?

'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.   What was his conclusion?

The other witnesses saw the event from a different perspective.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. What was taking place?

At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  What did the disciple see?

And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:16-17

    What did the disciples hear?

In the vision the disciples saw, God used a visual effect of a dove to point specifically at Jesus Christ then said this is my Son. It is also clear that the disciples writing the Gospels had different perspectives and described of the dove in their vision with different names.

The Spirit of God   The Spirit of God descending like a dove Matthew 3:16

Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. Luke 3:22

The Spirit  The Spirit descending on him like a dove. Mark 1:10.

The Spirit  The Spirit come down from heaven as a dove John 1:32.

Most Christians believe that the Bible was written about Jesus Christ. The passages that speak of the water baptism of Jesus Christ also revealed Jesus Christ as the Savior of Israel and as the one who would baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. In the four records of Jesus Christ baptism the words surrounding the baptism and the circumstances of Christís baptism determines its meaning.

While Christians may visualize God speaking from heaven, Christ baptized in the river Jordan and the Spirit of God descending in the form of a dove, nothing was said about the nature of God. Christ needed to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness. God wanted to introduce his son to Israel and used an image of a dove landing on Christ to say ďthis is my son.Ē  The Bible is about Jesus and the plan of salvation brought to mankind through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then subject matter discussed in John 1:31-34. Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, and Luke 3:22 identified Jesus Christ as the Savior of Israel to those who witnessed Christís baptism.

Some say that water baptism is the first outward sign of a believer. However, let us remember that water baptism is when we identify our lives with the person of Jesus Christ.

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