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Jesus: Baptised by John

What happened at Jesus' baptism?


Baptism was already popular in the time of Jesus. It demonstrated a person’s commitment to living God’s way rather than their own. Jesus had a cousin called John who baptised people. He was known as John the Baptist. John was a preacher. He told people about God. He spoke to the crowds and told them they should live the good lives that God wanted for them. He told the people that they were 'sinners' because they had done bad things in their lives. John warned them that God would judge all people for what they do in their life. He said God wanted them to 'repent': to stop, turn away from their bad ways and to ask God's forgiveness for the things they had done wrong.

The people listening were moved by what John was saying. They wanted to put things right with God straight away. By being immersed (or dunked!) in the water of the River Jordan, people showed their willingness to be washed from their bad ways and to try to live God's way from then on. John believed that he was preparing people for God's promised Messiah.

As Jesus was being baptised, John heard God's voice say,

'You are my Son, who I love. With you I am well pleased' (Luke 3:21)

The Bible says, 'the Spirit of God descended like a dove' on Jesus. Now John knew that Jesus was God's Messiah. Many Christians are baptised as a way of following Jesus. They want to show other people that, like John, they believe in him and want to live their lives according to what he said and did.

Did you know? Some Christians ask to be baptised in a river or the sea, so that passers-by can stop and watch. Why do you think they choose to be baptised like this?