Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Baptism of the Savior


This week, I want to review the baptism of the Savior. Why was he baptized? If he was a perfect and sinless man, why did he need to be baptized? Even John the Baptist questioned the Savior when he approached him and entreated him for baptism. In Matthew 3:14, John reacts to this request. " But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" How could he, John, an imperfect man, baptize the Savior, when baptism is supposed to be a symbol of becoming clean from sins and accepting Christ as one's Savior? The Savior explained that it was to fulfill all righteousness and John accepted, proceeding to baptize the Savior. When Christ arose from the water, the Holy Ghost descended like a dove and the voice of God was heard from the heavens, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

What does it mean to fulfill all righteousness? In 2 Nephi 31:6-11 gives three reasons for Jesus Christ being baptized.

1.   To show the Father that he would be obedient in keeping his commandments
2.   To be an example to the children of men
3.   To show the children of men the way to return to Heavenly Father by making the first commitment to keep his commandments

Baptism is a gateway for the path of repentance and obedience that, if faithfully followed, will lead us back to Heavenly Father. The Savior was absolutely perfect and by entering the waters of baptism, he showed that even he who was perfect, would enter into a covenant with Heavenly Father to be obedient in all things and keep the commandments of God. He submitted himself to the will of the Father in this as he did in all things, humbly and meekly, showing us by his deed and how he performed his deed, how we can become the children of God. 

In reading this I came across a bit of confusion. To preface, I need to state that I believe the Godhead consists of three separate individuals, God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. While they are one in purpose and action, they are three separate individuals. This scripture passage, Matthew 3:16-17 seems to support this as all three were present and manifested in three separate ways. First, Jesus Christ was in the water, as soon as he arose from the water, the Holy Ghost descended like a dove, and thirdly, the voice of God was heard from the heavens proclaiming that Jesus Christ was his son, in whom he was well pleased. My confusion comes in when discussing the appearance of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost doesn't have a physical body but his appearance would still be that of a man. Did John see the dove and the Holy Ghost? Seeing the dove was part of a predetermined sign that would indicate that this baptism was in accordance with God's will and sanctified by him. After reading the student manual, I'm still confused. Did John see a dove, did he see the personage of the Holy Ghost and his descent was like a dove? Or did he see both? 2 Nephi 31:8 stated that the Holy Ghost descended in the form of a dove and Matthew states "descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:" When I have experiences of feeling the Spirit move me, it makes me think that John saw the personage of the Spirit descending like a dove and lighting or enveloping the Savior. It would cause a sweet and undeniable feeling of joy and gladness. In the end, it doesn't matter that I'm now quite sure how this should be visualized. All I need to know is that it did. I'm grateful for my Savior, for his beautiful example of perfect humility and submission and obedience. I'm thankful for John's example of humility and his righteous desires. It's a lovely thing to study this story and examine myself to see where I can improve and try to be faithful to those baptismal covenants I made long ago to try to follow the Savior. He is my hero.

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