The truth about water baptism initiated by John the Baptist as instructed to him by Yahweh was a form of preparation for the coming of the Messiah who will baptize with the Spirit. As in the case of John, what he did was only temporary and no longer necessary after the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. John tried to dissuade him. ‘It is I who need baptism from you’ he said ‘and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands’. At this, John gave in to him.
As soon as Jesus was baptized he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.”
Things notable in these verses are: first, John himself exclaimed that is it him who needs baptism from the Lord and not vice versa; and second, Jesus allowed it ‘for the time being’ which means it was only temporary and allowable as the saving ‘righteousness of God’ demands which governs the whole plan of salvation. ‘Righteousness’ here must not be equated to human righteousness, or the carnal laws as imparted by Moses, which were about to be nullified by the Spiritual laws in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How long will the ‘time being’ mentioned by the Lord Jesus going to be?
According to The Jerusalem Bible, the rite of immersion, symbolic of the purification or of the renewal, was familiar to the ancient religions and to Judaism (baptism of proselytes, Essene purifications). John’s baptism though suggested by these practices is distinct from them for three main reasons: it is directed to moral, not ritual, purification (Mat 3:-2-11; Luke 3:10-14); it takes place once only and for this reason appears as a ceremony of initiation; it has eschatological value in so far as it enrolls its recipients among the number of those who professedly and actively prepare themselves for the imminent coming of the Messiah and who are, therefore, the messianic community in anticipation.
John 1:32-34 John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptize with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptize with the Holy Spirit”.
This phrase sums up the whole purpose of the Messiah’s coming, namely, that mankind might be born again in the Spirit. The Spirit rests on Him (Is. 11:2; 42:1) and so He can confer it on others (baptism in the Spirit, Acts 1:5) but only after His resurrection, for Jesus came in the flesh which was corruptible, and it is only when He is ‘lifted up’ and has gone to the Father that His body, glorified now, is fully endowed with divine, life-giving power. Thenceforward the Spirit flows freely to the ‘world’ from this body as from an exhaustible spring.
This is the Lord Jesus meant for the ‘time-being’ while He is not yet ‘lifted up’. Therefore water baptism only was necessary during the apostolic era, and no longer necessary after the Lord Jesus had gone up to the Father.
What kind of ‘water’ is necessary which Jesus Himself is going to baptize us with?
John 4:10-14 Jesus replied: ‘If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you: Give me a drink, you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water’.
‘You have no bucket, sir,’ she answered ‘and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle? Jesus replied:
‘Whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again; but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life.’
John 7:37-39 On the last day and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood there and cried out: ‘If any man is thirst, let him come to me! Let the man come and drink who believes in me!’ As scripture says: From his breast shall flow fountains of living water. He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive; for there was no Spirit yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
John 19:28 After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed, and to fulfill the scripture perfectly he said: ‘I am thirsty’.
Jesus actually referred to ‘thirst’ of the living water, since He is about to be lifted-up, and not the literal thirst for ordinary water.
John 19:34 one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water.
The ‘water and blood’ is symbolic: the ‘blood’ shows that the Lamb has truly been sacrificed for the salvation of God’s true children; the ‘water’, symbol of the Spirit, shows that the sacrifice is a rich source of grace.
Having said all these, all Christian and Catholic denominations today still practice the ritual water baptism, which we have learned from above, as unnecessary and worthless after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Many denominations even declare at what age will a person should be baptized. The truth is, all true children of GOD are already endowed by the Holy Spirit while still in the womb, which is the true meaning of Baptism.
Jeremiah 1:5 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations’.