Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Church

Why Jesus was Baptized?

by Rev. Fr. K. K. John

The name Snanam: Sanskrit word. It does not convey the exactness of the original Mamodeeso or snanam. Snanam in Sanskrit means, Thechukuli: “Na Snanam Na vilepanam.”

There are two snanams:

1 Baptism of John:

Baptism of John is known as Baptism of repentance, Mt 3:2, Mk 1:4. This was for remission of sins. It was symbolic because, Kumran Manual of discipline says, ‘Mere ablution cannot cleanse but submission of soul to God’s ordinances.’ However it pointed towards Christ.

Jesus was sinless by birth and by deeds and hence repentance baptism was not required.

2 Christian Baptism:

Christian Baptism was instituted after resurrection. This is also called Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is done in the name of Trinity; Father, Son, H Spirit.

Being one in the Trinity, Jesus had no need to undergo that, which is done in the name of Trinity. “Na kuriyal nishphalam karma” that is: no work without purpose.

Then why he went in for baptizing? There are four reasons:

1. Christ’s Baptism was to reveal Himself as Son of God to Israel. Until then he led a private life.

2. The only purpose of John’s baptism was to publicly testify Jesus as Christ, the anointed, before commencement of public ministry. He came to bear witness to light, Jn 1:8. “I did not know him, but that he should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water, 1:31. He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the spirit descending and remaining on him this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God,” v 33-34.

3. To fulfill righteousness, “Adyacharyathwam kaikondaharon…Yohannan karthavinnum….

Mat 3:14-15 sheds light as to why Jesus subjected himself to baptism.

When Jesus came to be baptized, John tried to prevent him saying, “I need to be baptized by you and now are you coming to me? But Jesus said to him. Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”. Then he allowed him.

What righteousness is that Jesus talked about? Righteousness is nonnegotiable attribute of God. God cannot do anything repugnant to His own quality. He does not abrogate what he already laid down. Thus God is said as unchangeable, “Same yesterday, today and forever” Heb 13:8.

1 God gave laws through Moses. After Moses’ death God did not give new law but affirmed it to Joshua: Josh 1:7, “Be strong and very courageous to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; turn not from it to the right or to the left.”

2 Lazarus and the wealthy: Abraham says, people have to obey the laws of Moses, Luke 16:29.

God gave Priesthood to Moses, Aaron and to his sons forever, Ex 28, v1, 41, 29:442. It was imperative that righteous God not violate rather fulfill the conditions of the law, which He had laid. Thus the priesthood once given to the Levite tribe had to be taken back through and by a Levite only. John bequeathed priesthood according to Levite tribe.

Law required 20 years of age for army service Num 1:3 and 30 years to initiate temple services, Numbers, 4:2. Remember, Jesus was 30 years when he went into Jordan, the age according to law to initiate temple service. What happened here was shifting/transfer of Levite priesthood, which was only for Israelites and became redundant, passed into eternal priesthood through Jesus Christ, which was then given to all humanity through Apostles.

4. by entering into the waters of Jordan God purified the whole element of water, which suffered defilement by the fall of man and reverted it to the original status, says Gregory of Nazianzes.

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