The Christian liturgy of the Christmas season ends with the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. Jesus sets out the time for his ministry through his baptism. The baptism of Jesus is a call for all to begin a new life.
Baptism of Jesus
Jesus comes out of his hidden life at Nazareth. He leaves the hidden years behind, may also be his life as a carpenter and joins John the Baptist who was baptizing those who wanted to prepare themselves for the arrival of Messiah. With the baptism of Jesus, his silent life of thirty years came to an end and he moved into publicity from his privacy. The baptism makes him more identified with his people.
All the four gospels give importance to the baptism of Jesus. John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus with his baptism, which symbolically showed that those who were baptized by him were changed in heart to accept the Kingdom of God to be introduced by Jesus.
Was it necessary for Jesus to be baptized?
This question is not necessary since the gospels clarify the purpose of the baptism of Jesus. It was a declaration that the ministry of Jesus started with the baptism during which the “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.”(Matthew 3: 16-17, Bible Gateway NIV)
Baptism of Jesus and his Transfiguration
The baptism of Jesus was an official declaration of the ministry of the Kingdom of God. The same presence of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit can be seen at Transfiguration, before his crucifixion, the fulfillment of his incarnation. The beginning of the ministry of Jesus, marked by his baptism reaches its fulfillment in the events of his sacrifice at Calvary. The baptism leads to the Transfiguration. In both, God reveals the power of the Son, who willingly submits himself as the humble servant of the Father.
The baptism of Jesus reminds us that we should be cleansed and unified into the Mystical body of Jesus Christ. It is a call for an active life as a witness to Christ.