Question on Jesus’ Baptism

Dear Thirumeni,

Hope you are keeping good. Would appreciate if you could throw some light on this:

I read in a non-orthodox periodical that the purpose of Jesus’ baptism was to reveal himself to John, the Baptist.( The author does not say ‘reveal to Israel’  as is given in John 1: 31). The author mentions St. John 1:33,34 to support his claim  and says that St. John did not know Jesus before the baptism.

But when we read John 1:29 we get a different idea, that John already knew Him. Mathew 3:14 also gives the idea that John the Baptist already knew Him. Luke 1:41 also says that John as a baby leaped in his mother’s womb hearing the greeting of Mary. So how could he not recognize Jesus when he was grown up, until His baptism?

Thanks and regards,


Dear (?)

Your question concerning the reason for Jesus’ baptism can be discussed only on the basis of our understanding of the Bible. You cannot pick independent verses from the Gospels and for that matter from the Bible, and argue this or that. This is because Gospel writers (Biblical writers in general too) were using data available to them from various sources and they were not recorded or reproducing them in a strictly chronological order; rather as the writers understood them and on the basis of what they wanted to convey to their readers (I will write a note some time later in detail in my blog on this). Luke 7:19 says, ‘John sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him whether He was truly the expected one or they should wait for another’. This may look as if John was not sure of Jesus’ identity even after the baptism (Luke 3:21 ff.). This also contradicts what you see in John 1:29 to 35 and Matthew 3:14. This proves that we cannot take random verses from the Bible and argue this or that. Rather we have to take the message of the Bible in its totality.

Now regarding your query, Biblical scholars are of the opinion that Jesus’ baptism was to identify Himself with people. This probably agrees with the opinion of our Church fathers who say that ‘to save humanity Jesus had to go through every stage humans have to go through in their lives’. This is also why we say in the H. Eucharist, ‘your birth, baptism, suffering … we remember Oh Lord’.  Further, to support this opinion, you may find John 1:31 last part which says, “… might be revealed to Israel”. This suggests that baptism was for Jesus to be revealed to all Israel. But again you cannot take it as a proof text.  One thing is sure; Jesus’ baptism was not with a limited goal of just revealing Himself to John the Baptist, it was for Him to be with people where ever they are and what all stages they had to go through in their lives to be saved.

Regards and prayers



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