John the Baptist came preaching a “baptism of repentance” to the people of Israel. Those who submitted to his baptism were those who came “confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:6). We should probably understand this baptism to be both symbolic of the cleansing of sin to these “confessors” and of their passing through the waters of God’s eventual judgment. The question, therefore, that we must consider today is: “So if He was without sin why did Jesus get baptized?”
Indeed it seems that this is exactly what was on the mind of John the Baptist. Verse 14 tells us that John tried to stop Him and said, “I need to be baptized by you.” John recognized the spotlessness of Jesus and he certainly understood what his own baptism signified. So why is Jesus coming to him and getting baptized? The answer lies in the response of Jesus to John. He said, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” This is a sweeping statement used by Jesus to convey the idea that He came to complete God’s great redemptive plan in every detail. He came to inaugurate the kingdom of righteousness within the hearts of His people.
The first step in the inauguration of this kingdom was the identification of God’s Savior with God’s people. In other words Jesus had to be made like us in every way for Him to be our faithful representative (see Hebrews 2:14-17). Though He was sinless and remained sinless throughout His entirely earthly sojourn and for all eternity, yet the Son of God identified with sinful humanity. As one immerses himself in the waters of baptism so Jesus immersed himself in all of mankind’s weaknesses so that He might be able to save us to the uttermost! (See Hebrews 7:24-25 for further meditation)