Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.
(Matthew 3:13-15 ESV)
Today we read the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Up until this point Jesus had lead a pretty obscure life. The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about His childhood, except for a very brief excerpt when he was twelve [Luke 2:41-51]. The next we see of Him is when He is baptized in this passage at about the age of 30 [Luke 3:23].
Some claim that in these intervening years Jesus spent time in Britain or India. But there is no evidence of this. It is most likely that Jesus simply led a normal life in Nazareth as we see that people recognized Him as being from the area when He began preaching [Mark 6:1-3].
Those who claim Jesus spent time in India like to point out supposed similarities of Jesus’ teachings and Hinduism. But even a rudimentary comparison of these two teachings show they are completely incompatible. For instance, Jesus made it clear that everybody has one and only one life on this earth and when we die He judges our faith [John 5:22]. This is obviously at odds with the Hinduistic teaching of reincarnation and is just one of many incompatibilities between Jesus and Hinduism.
Interestingly, Jesus came (of His own initiative) to be baptized by John. Jesus was God in the flesh and lived without committing a sin. He had no need to participate in an act that testifies to one’s repentance and need for forgiveness [2 Corinthians 5:21]. John recognized this and initially tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized. Jesus seems to agree that for Him baptism was unnecessary but nevertheless appropriate under the circumstances (let it be so now) so as to fulfill all righteousness.
Jesus came into the world to identify with sinners [Isaiah 53:12]. It seems that being baptized, despite being unnecessary for Him, was the first public step in His ministry to redeem mankind. Similarly, Jesus was spent 9 months in His mother’s womb and then lived as an every-day human being for 30 years. None of that was necessary from God’s point of view. God could have easily created Jesus as a full-grown man – similar to Adam – on the spot at the appropriate time.
But God wanted us to know that He identifies with us. That means going through all that we have gone through including gestation, life, and death. There is nothing that we have experienced that Jesus, who was God, did not experience. He knows exactly what it is like to live in a human body on this earth.
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