What Happened When Jesus Was Baptized?

Luke relates the momentous event of Jesus’ baptism in two sentences. Like a suitcase that is tightly packed for a trip, Luke crammed earthshaking thoughts into his report.

Luke 3.21-22Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,

And the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

The Trinity

The word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, but the concept of the Trinity can be found in several places. For example, in these two verses we find the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The early church had to grapple with the fact that God appeared in the Bible as Jehovah (God the Father), Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

The church discovered that heresies arose when people attempted to over-simplify a fact about God that can only be accepted by faith.

Rudy Ross and I discuss the Trinity in today’s YouTube video on the Bob Spradling channel. Rudy has an explanation that may be helpful to you.

I have learned two things about the Trinity.

(1) Simple illustrations may be helpful, but they run the risk of not telling the whole story. If you meet someone with a simplistic explanation of the Trinity, be careful.

(2) God is bigger than our ability to think or speak about his character. How can three persons be distinct and one at the same time? Only God can make that happen.

The Heavens Opened

Jesus was praying when the heavens were opened. God’s revelation of his purposes often comes when people are in prayer.

God’s revelation in this instance involved allowing people to have a glimpse of heaven.

An open vision of heaven is rare, but it does take place. God met with Ezekiel through an open heaven and directed the course of his life.

Ezekiel 1.1In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

In today’s video, Rudy reminds us that God granted Peter, John, and James an “open heaven” experience on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9.28-36).

God wanted to make it perfectly clear what role Jesus was to play in his redemptive purposes in the world. To do so, he opened the heavens for all to see.

Holy Spirit Empowerment

Jesus was to baptize people with the Holy Spirit and fire. His birth took place through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

At his baptism, the Spirit came upon him to empower his words and actions.

Here is another difficult issue for humans to comprehend. Jesus is both divine and human. He is the God-Man.

The combination of God and Man in one person seems impossible, but it is not for God.

Again, over simplification leads to error. For example, there was an ancient heresy called “docetism,” coming from the Greek word “to appear.” Docetism wrongly understood Jesus as God who was only appearing to be a human.

Philippians 2 highlights how Jesus was God, but emptied himself to become a human. At his baptism, we learn that Jesus was able to perform deeds of power and speak with authority because the Holy Spirit empowered him.

Jesus came to baptize people with the Spirit, so we can be empowered to fulfill God’s purpose through our lives.

The Father’s Affirmation

The heavens were opened, the Spirit empowered Jesus, and the Father affirmed his identity.

He said, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3.22).

The imagery of Psalms 2 and 110 are only understandable in the light of Jesus’ baptism and resurrection.

I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
(Psalm 2.7)

The Lord says to my lord,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
(Psalm 110.1)

Peter traveled with Jesus for three years. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter used words from the Psalms to explain to his audience what God accomplished through Jesus.

Acts 2.34-36For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.

Our Response

God gave the world a testimony to the nature and character of Jesus from the time of his baptism to the day he ascended into heaven. He did so, expecting a response.

What can experience, if we respond in faith?

(1) We may never experience an open heaven of revelation from God, but we can know him in a friendship kind of relationship.

(2) We have the opportunity to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

(3) By God’s grace, we can hear him say these words about us, “This is my beloved son/daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have a YouTube video that corresponds to this passage. Rudy is an excellent Bible student and lover of God. His words will greatly add to my thoughts. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

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