The Prophet John (Yaha) objected to Jesus being baptized by him (ritually cleansed in water). Jesus, however, insisted by saying, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. Jesus did not need to repent. He had not sinned. It was a baptism that symbolized cleansing. Jesus did not need to be cleansed. He was not defiled. Jesus did many things he did not need to do. His death was a death for sin. Jesus did not need to die for sin. In it all he was identifying with his people, but even more, he was fulfilling the law’s demands for his people (for they could not) so that they could experience the blessings of cleansing and forgiveness.
Just as his death fulfills the sacrifices for atonement, so his baptism fulfills the washing necessary for purity. “Not only did Jesus fulfil the laws requiring sacrifice for sin but the purity laws requiring washing from defilement and in doing so exemplified the significance of baptism.”1
Peter compared our baptism to Noah’s ark and the way God saved them through the water. Through the flood God cleansed the earth of wickedness, saving the righteous. He purified his creation by destroying all that was defiled. Peter says that baptism corresponds to this, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). At Paul’s conversion, Ananias said to him, “Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). Baptism symbolizes the washing away of our sins.
1L. S., ““Cleansing in Christ.” (Unpublished diss., 2010), 19.
Other posts in this series
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 1: Introduction
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 2: The Danger of Defilement
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 3: Distinguishing between the Clean and Unclean
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 4: What Makes One Unclean?
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 5: Uncleanness is Contagious and Defiles the Camp
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 6: Defilement and Purity in the New Testament
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7a: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7b: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean by His Baptism
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 7c: Jesus Christ Makes Us Clean by His Death and Resurrection
Cleansing from Defilement, Part 8: The Incarnation Was Necessary for Our Cleansing