Read this: Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22
John the Baptist spent his days preparing people to meet God, challenging the proud and baptizing the humble.
One day, the next person in line to be baptized was Someone he knew. It was his own cousin. Jesus. The Messiah.
Startled, John pushed back. “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
John was right to object. Baptism was a sign of repentance for the forgiveness of sin. It was a confession of being unworthy to stand before the holy God. John had grown up learning all about the Messiah because of his own role as the messenger who would announce Him to the world (Day 25). How could he, a sinner, baptize the One who had no sin? John’s reaction to Jesus testifies that Jesus was the holy Son of God.
But Jesus assured John it was the right thing to do. A distinguishing act. By submitting to baptism, Jesus affirmed the truth of John’s teaching. Repentance for the forgiveness of sin is necessary to stand before God.
By submitting to baptism, Jesus was also declaring His role as the Redeemer of mankind. He took His place among us and identified with our sin to signal the day when He would physically take our sin upon Himself through His death on the cross (Isaiah 53:12; 2 Corinthians 5:21).*
John, who didn’t back down from anyone, willingly surrendered to his Lord. He baptized the One who one day would forgive his sins.
*For more on this, see Matthew 1-7 of The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, pages 74-78.