After John had been baptizing people, telling them to ‘repent’ and to ‘prepare for the Kingdom’, he said that “one is coming who’s sandals I am not fit to carry” (Mt. 3:11). He said that this One would bring judgement–especially on religious leaders and those who thought they were already righteous.
John said “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”(Matthew 3:11-12)
Clearly, John knew that this One coming after him was better than him…and he had no problem admitting that. This is the kind of humility that God is after.
As John continues calling to the people, one day he looks up and sees Jesus. We’re not told if they knew each other before (after all, they were cousins)…but John recognizes Jesus!
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me? Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.” (Matt. 3:13-15)
Jesus did not need to ‘repent’, so why was he baptized? A few ideas have been put forth: 1) To identify with all of humanity; 2) To show that He was ready to lead; 3) as an ‘initiation’ into His public ministry; and 4) To ‘fulfill all righteousness’–as Jesus stated. It wasn’t that Jesus needed repentance, but that He ‘all in’ with God, and ready to lead.
John complied, and then we see the first real ‘picture’ of the Trinity: “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:16-17)
Here was the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all involved together at the same time. Jesus was pleasing to the Father, and had the empowerment of the Spirit.
Now He was ready to lead and to begin bringing ‘the Kingdom’ to earth!