What is the significance of Jesus' baptism? Watch the featured video, reflect on some questions, and go deeper into study on your own or with a group. If you're participating in our reading plan One Story that Leads to Jesus, this Reflections Bible Study lines up with week 34.
Once you've watched the featured video, take time to reflect on these questions.
How would you summarize the message of this overview video in your own words?
How did this video encourage or expand your understanding of the Gospel of Matthew?
Why do you think Jesus started his public ministry by getting baptized?
Matthew’s Gospel was written to show that Jesus isn’t just another prophet or king. He’s the ultimate prophet-priest-king that the people had been waiting for. Jesus fulfilled everything that Moses foreshadowed, and he is the King who was promised to rescue Israel. Jesus is the one who restores humanity to the garden and God’s presence. And even more, Jesus is God with us. He is the place where Heaven and Earth overlap permanently. One of the many ways Matthew shared this truth was by recounting Jesus’ baptism.
Baptism is the reenactment of what it means to be rescued through waters of death in order to enter a new creation life. The practice of baptism is seen all throughout the story of the Bible, so when Jesus comes to be baptized, many of the baptismal events from the Hebrew Bible are alluded to and find their ultimate significance in this important scene. Jesus’ baptism is the beginning of a new creation. He is the ultimate Noah’s ark where we can be saved and start again. He is the new Moses who rescued us from slavery and into freedom. He is the new Joshua who we can follow into God’s promises. All that Jesus did when he underwent the violent flood of chaos in his crucifixion made a way for everyone who trusts in him to enter the new creation life that he offers. He is where life can flourish and God’s pleasure rests.
Let’s explore how these Old Testament allusions are evident in Matthew’s Gospel account of Jesus’ baptism.
How does the setting of Jesus’ baptism match with the story found in Joshua 1:1-4 and 3:13-17? What other similarities do you notice between these two stories?
Study Matthew 3:16 in light of the second and third days of the creation account (see Genesis 1:2 and 1:6-13). What similarities do you observe?
Now in light of Genesis 1:6-13, review John the Baptist’s words in Matthew 3:7-10. On the third day of creation, God made land that could bear fruit. How does repentance that bears fruit connect to participating in Jesus’ baptism? What are some other ways the third day correlates with Jesus’ baptism (see Matthew 16:21, Romans 6:1-7)?
Read Matthew 3:16 in light of what followed the de-creation flood event (see Genesis 8:6-12). What did the dove’s actions communicate to Noah? How did the dove in Jesus’ baptism provide a similar message? How do you think the good news of a new beginning relates to the specific message that the heavenly voice spoke over Jesus in Matthew 3:17?
Turn your reflections into a prayer. Express gratitude for what Jesus went through to lead you into new creation life (2 Corinthians 5:14-17). Admit any areas of your life where you resist Jesus’ rescue plan. Seek his help and recommit to leaving the old behind to follow him in new life.