Jesus’ Baptism — What Does it Represent?

Question from a Site Viewer
I have read that when Jesus was baptized it represented the “laying on Him” the sins of all of us. That is, instead of cleansing Him of sin, which does not make sense, it loaded him with iniquity of us all. He became our Sacrificial Lamb. Is this a correct understanding of the symbolism of His baptism? Thanks.

Tim’s Answer
I follow a simple view of Scripture. If Scripture does not say something, I do not teach such as being Scriptural. That is, I hold a lot of theories of why certain things happen in Scripture, but at the end of the day they are all my theories. They are not Scriptural teaching. As human theories, they may be right or they may be wrong. We will know one day when we see God. But where Scripture is silent, I do not like to add to the teaching of Scripture. Where Scripture has spoken, that is what I like to learn and follow.

Scripture never says that Jesus’ baptism represented the laying on Him of all of our sins. I would go back to what you read and see if there is any Scripture given in support of that statement, and if so, then go look up the Scripture and see if it is saying that Jesus’ baptism represented the laying on Him of all of our sins. You will find that Scripture does not say this.

What Scripture does state is that Jesus told John the Baptist that it was necessary for John to baptize Jesus in order to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Scripture does not explain this statement and so anything I or anyone else says about what this means is simply speculation, even if it is speculation informed by much study of the Word. Ultimately, it may be right or it may be wrong.

As for baptism itself, baptism is a symbol of death (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12). I do not know where one gets the concept that baptism is a symbol of laying on of sin, unless one likens it to the Old Testament sprinkling of blood, to which I find no similarity in Scripture. Baptism is not sprinkling, but immersion, as the word itself means to dip or immerse. Another word means to sprinkle (See Hebrews 9:19, 21).

Because it is a symbol of death, I believe that Jesus was baptized to symbolize that He must die for us. His death was necessary to fulfill all righteousness in the words of Jesus, echoing the message Gabriel brought to Daniel the prophet in Daniel 9:24-27 where God says seventy sevens are determined to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, and that this would entail the “cutting off of the Messiah.” This is what I believe, and I think it is right, but again Scripture does not directly state this so I would never state this as absolute truth. What is true is that Jesus was baptized and that we are to be baptized and baptism represents our death with Christ and our resurrection with Him in the new life He has given us.

May the Lord Jesus and His Spirit guide you as you grow in His grace and knowledge.


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