Why was Jesus baptized and what was the importance of that? Why then did He not baptize anyone else?
The baptism of Jesus is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. The gospel of John only refers to an event that would occur during the baptism of Jesus (John 1:32) . Matthew provides us with the most detail. Here is the passage,
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.” . . . And after being baptized . . . (NASB) Matthew 3:13-16
What a curious statement Jesus makes! The Greek says that John kept trying and trying to prevent Jesus from being baptized. But Jesus explained that the reason He should be baptized was ” . . . to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus does not provide further explanation, and so we are not really sure what He means. One fact is clear, however, this is a fulfillment of God’s plan. Jesus was the sinless God-man and so His baptism was not an act of repentance from sin. Mark 1:4 says that John the Baptist’s baptism was a symbol of “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (NASB) Mark 1:4
That is a negative meaning of baptism. On the positive side, baptism actually expresses a desire to live a righteous life – to be holy just like God. Jesus is God.
. . . because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (NASB) 1 Peter 1:16
As the God-man, Jesus declared His desire to live a holy life even though He was already holy. We believe that is why John the Baptist did not want to baptize Jesus. He was already holy. He did not need a baptism unto repentance. But Jesus wanted to be baptized as a symbol of a desire to live a holy life while He was living as a man on earth. He purposed to fulfill all righteousness – all holiness! I am guessing, but I believe that is what Jesus was saying.
Jesus Never Baptized
The gospel of John tells us that Jesus’ disciples were the ones who were baptizing. Scripture does not record any instance of Jesus baptizing anyone.
After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there . . . (NASB) John 3:22-23
When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were) . . . (NASB) John 4:1-2
It is not surprising that Jesus did not baptize anyone because the Holy Spirit says in John 1:33 that John the Baptist baptized with water, but Jesus will “baptize with the Holy Spirit.” It is a great illustration of how God spreads the good news about Jesus through men and women to other men and women. Men and women respond by the Holy Spirit leading them to trust in Jesus for their forgiveness of sins. The Holy Spirit has baptized them into the Body of Christ. And then they respond by being baptized with water as a symbol of their desire to die to themselves and sin and to live a godly life – to be like Jesus.
Jesus was holy. As the God-man He purposed to live a holy life and baptism was a statement of that desire! His baptism was an example to us to live a holy life. Let us glorify Him in our lives!