Matthew 3:13-17 describes the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river by his cousin and herald John. Many have wondered as John did why Jesus needed to be baptized and the answer lies in Christ's own words: "Let it be so for now, For in this way we shall do all that God requires." We know that God requires us to become a new creation through baptism and yet there are other facets of this sacrament that are significant.
In the Catholic church baptism usually occurs in infancy although it is also done with older children and adults during the Resurrection celebration. In other faith communities baptism is done in a shallow pool, still others in larger swimming pools, rivers, ponds and lakes. These communities require a person to choose to be baptized and therefore choose the way of the Lord. Part of this choice is to make a true repentance of sins.
When a person is baptized by immersion as Yeshua was their whole body is submerged in water symbolizing a death to this world. Just as Christ was buried in the tomb, the person is "buried" in water and is not seen in this world for a few seconds. Just as Christ broke forth from the tomb, the baptized person breaks the surface of the water and emerges as a new creation. Family and friends celebrate as the person begins their faith walk with the Lord.
Christ was sinless yet he came to John to be baptized to establish the new order and make baptism the outward sign that a person was ready to follow the Lord. Prior to John the outward sign of God's chosen people was circumcision and any who were not were considered the heathen gentiles to be shunned and left out of God's blessings. In this way gentiles as well as Jews, men and women, servants or free men could come to faith and follow Jesus' example.
At baptism we "put on" Christ like a new spotless garment and our lives should reflect that in our everyday routine. We stumble and fall and rely on our Lord. saviour and brother Jesus to renew the spotlessness of that garment with his blood. In baptism we die with Christ so that we may also rise with him to everlasting life. Let us remember the words of John after Jesus' baptism: "Behold, the lamb of God."