Sunday Devotional: The Importance of the Baptism of Our Lord

Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
“I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The account of Jesus’ baptism is significant for at least two reasons:

(1) The Baptism of our Lord by St. John the Baptist is one of several instances in the Old and New Testaments  — see also Genesis 1:26, John 5:7, and Matthew 28 — when the nature of the Triune Godhead is revealed as the vexing mystery of three Persons in one God.

Our greatest theologians had sought in vain to plumb the mystery of the Triune Godhead — of three Persons in one God.

St. Thomas Aquinas concluded in Summa Theologica:

We cannot come to the knowledge of the Trinity by reason alone, that is, by the natural and unaided efforts of the human mind. By our natural reason, we can know that God exists; that he is the First Cause of all; that he is one, infinite, simple, immutable, etc. But that the one God subsists in three really distinct Persons is a truth that can be known only by supernatural means. That is a truth beyond the reach of human reason to know, to prove, or to disprove. We know this truth by divine revelation, and accept it by supernatural faith; we take it upon the authority of God himself.… By aid of the light of glory the soul in heaven sees God himself clearly and truly.

And so we accept our human limitation and believe, putting our trust in the words of St. Paul that we shall understand fully when we see God face to face:

1 Corinthians 13:11-12

When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall understand fully,
even as I have been fully understood.

(2) Matthew 3’s account also speaks to the importance that Jesus holds for Baptism. Though a sacrament meant for sinful humanity, the sinless Son of God chose to be baptized before He began His public ministry.

These are the words on Baptism of His apostle St. Paul:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” -Romans 6:3-4

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” -1 Corinthians 6:11

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” -Galatians 3:27

Baptism purifies and sanctifies (makes holy) the person, making him/her a dwelling of the Holy Spirit. That means that without Baptism, a person is without the Holy Spirit and rendered defenseless against the Evil One.

I don’t know what other Christian denominations believe about baptism, but in the Catholic Church — notwithstanding its many flaws, including the terrible sins committed by its clergy — the sacrament of Baptism is an act of exorcism:

Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens, or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan. (#1237 of Catechism of the Catholic Church)

In this manner, through the exorcizing sacrament of Baptism, “all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.”

Moreover, through Baptism we receive the gift of grace from the Holy Trinity — to believe in God, to love Him, and to grow in goodness. “Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.”

So if you are a Christian, don’t make the mistake of postponing the baptism of your child(ren) like a friend of mine (see “Without Baptism, we are abandoned to the wolves“). Baptism — clothing your child “with Christ” — is the most important thing you can and will ever do for your child.

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,


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10 months ago

And with Your Spirit, Amén. Dr. Eowyn, the Sunday Devotionals are a wonderful meditation to start the week refreshed.

10 months ago

Being born into a Catholic family I was baptized immediately after birth. Of course I have no memory of this nor did I participate in the decision. Because this was not volitional on my part I have always wondered if my baptism was “valid”. Or if I should be baptized again with full knowledge and consent. I don’t suppose there is any reason not to. I used to debate internally the need for baptism. Now it is only sufficient to know that Jesus was baptized. That settles it

10 months ago
Reply to  William

I got baptized as an adult, infants can’t consciously consent or join any religions, just as Jewish babies can’t say they want to be Jewish before they’re circumcised.

Kevin J Lankford
Kevin J Lankford
10 months ago

Romans 15:8;..”Now I say That Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” John the Baptist proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom and baptized as the proof of repentance and acceptance by the Hebrews, that the Kingdom was at hand and Jesus was the savior and Son of God. Yet the majority failed to accept the truth and Jesus was crucified, ending their first opportunity for the Kingdom. This is the only purpose ever given in the Bible for actual water baptism. Of course all is done… Read more »

10 months ago

Your comment warranted a re-read. As one who is late to the Bible I am still working my way through the OT. It is strange and difficult to understand but as Michael Heiser says it was written for us but not to us, it was written to ancient pre-modern Israelites in a supernatural context. I’ve been repeatedly advised to skip it and go straight to the New Covenant, the universalizing ministry of Christ, but it seems to me that the OT provides us with a framework for understanding and accepting the new. Just my thoughts

10 months ago
Reply to  William

Try to get a good study bible.

10 months ago

Those who are baptized, believe in Christ yet behave in incredibly UN-Christian-like ways are not “saved”. Like the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, that those who say that they did works in the name of the Lord won’t go to Heaven, but those who did the will of the Father in Heaven. However, infant baptism is not in the Bible, babies are not old enough to sin. Adults need to be baptized and want to be baptized, that is in the Bible. Purgatory and other stuff made up by the Catholic Church are not from the Bible, they were… Read more »

Ron W
Ron W
10 months ago

There are multiple baptisms mentioned in Scripture. Matthew gives three in one verse, spirit, fire and water. In Ephesians 4:5, it says “there is one baptism” which is common to all believers, the “one body” in this church age and I Corinthians 12:13 says, “by one Spirit we have all been baptized into one body”. The Holy Spirit places us all into the body of Christ when we trust Him as the LORD and our Savior when we believe by “the faith of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:20).

10 months ago

Beautiful article Dr. Eowyn.