It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1.9-11)
Mark mentions three significant signs attending the baptism of Jesus:
- The Parting of the Heavens – the heavens parted in the sense that they were torn open. After centuries of waiting, Jesus had come as the superior revelation of God. God parted the Red Sea (Exo 14.21), Moses split the rock (Isa 48.21), and the Mount of Olives will one day split in two when Jesus returns (Zech 14.4). Later in Mark, we learn that the veil of the temple will be torn in two from top to bottom (15.38). The rending of the heavens and the rending of the veil reveal that Jesus is the beloved and only begotten Son of God!
- The Descent of the Dove – The Amplified Bible states that the [Holy] Spirit like a dove came down and entered into Jesus. The idea is that Jesus was filled and equipped for His earthly ministry at His baptism. Genesis 1.2 states that the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters just prior to creation. He hovered in the sense of brooding, even as a dove. Here, the dove is brooding over Jesus. This is preparation for Jesus’ new creative work in the hearts of men.
- The Voice of the Father – Psalm 2.7 states, “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’” Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of Israel’s OT concept of sonship. As the beloved Son, we remember the sacrifice that the Father makes in giving Him to the world (John 3.16). God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all (Rom 8.32a). Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Mark 1.1 has already affirmed that He is the Son of God. As the Son of God, He is well-pleasing to the Father. He does not begin to be the Son of God at the baptism, but rather He begins His ministry as the suffering servant at His baptism.
You may wonder why Jesus would need to be baptized. Mark does not say, but when John objects in parallel accounts, Jesus asked him to permit it to be so to fulfill all righteousness (Matt 3.15). Jesus did not need to repent because He was without sin. However, His baptism identified Him with us. We must repent because we have sinned. The only answer to our dilemma is that Jesus identify with us. He did this. The baptism of Christ points us to the cross of Christ.
Jesus connected himself with all of John’s baptisms and we connect ourselves with His life’s work when we are baptized. Our baptism truly pictures what has happened when we repent and turn to Christ alone for eternal life. Baptism does not save, but it does indicate that we choose to identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior!