There was in those days a man who came preaching, saying: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Word spread quickly about this man whose clothing of camel’s hair and diet of locusts and wild honey was as crazy as the words he was speaking. Many came to where John the Baptizer was preaching of the one to come, one whom he said he was not worthy to untie his sandals, indeed a lowly and filthy job. Moved by the Spirit of the Lord many went into the river where John would immerse them and say: “I baptize you with water, but the one to come will baptize you with fire.” Many of the chief religious and keepers of the law came to see him as well to ask him by whose authority he did these things. John’s response was a question to them: “Who told you to flee the coming wrath you brood of snakes?” John did not mince words, nor did he hide from anyone behind a labyrinth of interpretations of the law given to Moses. So it was when John’s cousin came to join him in the river to be baptized, John said to Him: “I have need to be baptized by you, yet you come to me?”
Did Yeshua need to be baptized? The short answer is no, because in our time when a person is baptized the pastor claims the person for Christ. However, in that time Christ was foretold, yet concealed in the Torah and the prophets, Christ had not yet been lifted up, had not yet fulfilled salvation. The chief priests and pharisees made a great point to show by outward appearances that they were observing the law. Jesus sought to show everyone by his humble submission to John’s water baptism that he too by an outward sign would be washed in the sight of God. Hence his words to John: “Let it be so for now.” At times when a prophet or society wanted to show humility before God they would put on rough sackcloth and sit in the burnt remnants of whatever they had used for fuel. It was an outward appearance of abasement, of mourning to show a readiness to accept God’s judgement. Yeshua did not need to be baptized, yet he accepted the standard showing of readiness to wash away the old life and open a new life with God. Upon his coming out of the water the voice of God was heard as of a sound of thunder declaring him to be his beloved son, the Son stood ready to embark upon his saving work and the Spirit alighted on Him in the form of a dove.
This time is traditionally set apart for self sacrifice and reflection, perhaps even additional pleas for reconciliation to make ready for the passover and resurrection celebrations. Outward signs of placement of ashes prominently on the body and of abstinence and fasting can remind us of our mortal condition and of the sacrifices Christ made. If you have not yet accepted the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus, why not invite him to dwell within you today? You could then ask to be baptized and be adopted into the King’s family. Then all will know by your outward sign you have washed away the old, you have died to sin and death with a covering of the waters, to be raised with Him in eternity.