Jesus’ baptism was important because it was an outward sign or symbol of Jesus’ complete dedication of his life to do God’s will. Jesus’ baptism differed from the other baptisms performed by John the Baptist. We are told that John baptized with water for the purpose of repentance (Matt 3:11). The Bible states that Jesus “committed no sin” (1 Pet. 2:22) and was “without sin” (Heb. 4:15). We can conclude that Jesus’ baptism performed by John had a purpose other than repentance, since Jesus was not a sinner. He had no need to repent from anything.
Jesus’s baptism served a few purposes. First, it showed Jesus’ willingness to serve God unto death. This baptism represented giving up one’s life and will in the service of God. Let’s look at Jesus’ words in Luke 12:50, “I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” This statement shows that he was still undergoing a baptism. What does that mean, and when would it be accomplished? Jesus is referring to his death on the cross that would wash away the sins of the world. His baptism at Jordan was the start of his journey which would ultimately lead to his death. From this we know that the baptism of Jesus was a new kind of baptism – a dedication of one’s life unto death in service of God.
Second, Jesus’ baptism provided a symbol for the rest of the church to carry out after his death. Christians that have dedicated their full life in service of God like Jesus should be baptized as well. In Romans 6:3 Paul says, “do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” To be baptized into Christ means you are participating in the same symbol that Jesus started at Jordan. This outward symbol shows your heart’s attitude and intention to serve God faithfully unto death. Thus, it is not just a baptism of repentance but a baptism into his death – the complete dedication of the rest of your life in God’s service.
Third, Jesus’ baptism served as evidence for the witnesses present that Jesus was God’s son and that Jesus had received the holy spirit. In John 1:33-34 John the Baptist says, “I did not recognize Him [Jesus], but He [God] who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” This would have been an important understanding for those who watched and heard of Jesus’ baptism.