Does the Bible tell us that John's baptism of Jesus fulfilled
the law, and that it was completed by Jesus' baptism? What
does it mean that Jesus' baptism fulfilled "all righteousness"?
In Matthew 3:13-15 we read,
Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming
to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent
Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You,
and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said
to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this
way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then
he permitted Him. (NASB) Matt. 3:13-15
The key phrase in this passage says that Jesus wanted to be
baptized in order to "fulfill all righteousness." The
Greek word for "fulfill" is PLEROO which means "to
fulfill" or "to complete." Now why would Jesus
want to be baptized? What does this reveal about Jesus' heart
attitude? Before we answer that question, we need to see
a few things.
First, John the Baptist's baptism was for those who sin. That
is, his baptism was for every man and woman who has ever believed
and will live on this earth. Baptism symbolized a man's and
woman's sorrow over his or her sin and the desire to stop sinning.
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching
a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
(NASB) Mark 1:4
. . . and they were being baptized by him in the
Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. (NASB) Matt.
John's baptism was not for Jesus. Jesus was sinless and He
did not need to be forgiven. So then why did Jesus want to
Some believe that Jesus came to fulfill some Old Testament
law or prophecy. But this is difficult to accept, since religious
washing symbolized the cleansing of sin from the one who was
being washed. Jesus was sinless! Did Jesus want to be identified
with John's ministry? This is true, since John was the forerunner
for Jesus (Luke 1:17). Was this a handoff of ministry from
John to Jesus?
Sign To John.
The first reason that we can confidently give for Jesus to
be baptized was to prove to John that Jesus was the Messiah.
God had promised to show John who the Messiah was by giving
him a sign.