The Baptism of Jesus is spoken about in all 4 gospels, but it is only described specifically in 3 of them. John is only a general commentary. Only Matthew provides dialogue of what Jesus’s actions and commentary.
For ease of reading I’m going to underline the actual spoken aspects.
Part 1 — the baptism of Jesus
Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and [i]he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and [j]lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is [k]My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Mark 1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens [g]opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”
Luke 2:21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”
John 1:29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who [t]has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize [u]Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing [v]in water.” 32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize [w]Him, but He who sent me to baptize [x]in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes [y]in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
Mark and Luke only briefly cover the baptism by stating that Jesus was baptized and then the heavens opened and the Father talked about His Son Jesus.
John’s testimony talks about what happened before Jesus’ baptism when he saw him coming, and his testimony afterward of what had happened about John the Baptist’s witness.
Thus, I’m mostly going to examine Matthew here.
Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent (diakōluō) Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit (aphiēmi) it at this time; for in this way it is fitting (prepō) for us to fulfill all righteousness (dikaiosunē).” Then he *permitted (aphiēmi) Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and [i]he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and [j]lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is [k]My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
The first thing about this passage is that John attempts to prevent Jesus from being baptized and rather would be baptized by Jesus. The word used here is diakōluō:
G1254 — διακωλύω — diakōluō — dee-ak-o-loo’-o
From G1223 and G2967; to hinder altogether, that is, utterly prohibit: – forbid
This is a much stronger word than the NASB translation. Basically, John wanted absolutely no part of baptizing Jesus. This will tie into what the analysis of the baptism later.
Secondly, Jesus replies back to John telling him to “permit it” or the KJV “suffer [it to be so].” The word used here is aphiēmi:
G863 — ἀφίημι — aphiēmi — af-ee’-ay-mee
From G575 and ἵημι hiēmi (to send; an intensive form of εἶμι eimi (to go)); to send forth, in various applications: – cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be, go, have), omit, put (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up.
This is the primary word in the gospels which is used for forgiveness [of sins]. For example, in the Lord’s prayer: Matthew 6:12 ‘And forgive (aphiēmi) us our debts, as we also have forgiven (aphiēmi) our debtors. Likewise, it is the same word used when the disciples were called and left (aphiēmi) their nets to follow Jesus.
Thus, as Jesus said it is properly fitting for this to occur because it parallels his whole ministry which is His sacrifice for us for the forgiveness of sins.
The word for fitting in this case is prepō.
G4241 — πρέπω — prepō — prep’-o
Apparently a primary verb; to tower up (be conspicuous), that is, (by implication) to be suitable or proper (third person singular present indicative, often used impersonally, it is fit or right): – become, comely.
This word is only used 7 times in the NT, and it is used in terms of what is fitting for the saints to do in Christ in avoidance of fornication and other sins (Eph 5), what it is fitting for women to do (1 Cor 11, 1 Tim 2, Titus 2), and in Jesus’ fitting sacrifice for us (Heb 2, Heb 6).
The most interesting aspect of this word is the conspicuous nature of it. Baptism is indeed a public declaration of being a follower of Jesus. Likewise, baptism and communion are one of the few things that Jesus commanded us to do as believers, and they are two examples of public declarations of our faith in Him. Christianity has always been about faith in action, and this is no exception.
Finally, the word used for righteousness is dikaiosunē.
G1343 — δικαιοσύνη — dikaiosunē — dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay
From G1342; equity (of character or act); specifically (Christian) justification: – righteousness.
This word is only used for righteouness in the NT, and one of the most prominent examples is when Jesus states “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (dikaiosunē) and all these things shall be added unto you.”
This synergizes with the word fitting above, as baptism is symbolic of dying to self and becoming a new creation in Christ.
This is the interaction between Jesus and John:
But John tried to prevent (diakōluō) Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”
15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit (aphiēmi) it at this time; for in this way it is fitting (prepō) for us to fulfill all righteousness (dikaiosunē).”
The dialogue shows that Jesus knows what must occur in His mission, and therefore does not allow John to stop him from it. There is some element of truth in John’s words: John does need baptism from Jesus, but it is only a half truth. Jesus needed to be baptized to foreshadow and fulfill what He had come to earth to perform.
John is operating under an example of false humility in this case. His concern is not for what Jesus desires — the One who he claimed was greater than He and whose sandals he was not worthy to untie. But rather, he is concerned for himself and his unworthiness to baptize Jesus.
It’s very easy for humans to be persuaded or convinced into half truths. Half truths seems like the full truth, but they have underlying elements of pride or other sins hidden within them which corrupt them fully.
One example of this is compliments to women. Of course, it is a good thing to compliment a woman. But the context in which it is performed matters significantly. In the post Her emotions, it is very easy for husbands to fall into the trap of complimenting a wife when she asks for it. Husbands fall into this trap because they understand that complimenting their wife is good, but they fail to realized that a woman fishing for a compliment is doing it out of her own pride or self esteem. Building up that which is selfish is not godly and indeed will not direct her towards the truth which is God.
Jesus’ example to John here is one of rooting out false humility and to direct John on the path to do the right thing. The same thing should be done with both men and women.
Godly men should not validate selfishness, pride, or false humility.
Part 2 — the temptation of Jesus
The temptation of Jesus is only present in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He [a]then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “[b]On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and [c]worship me.” 10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and [d]serve Him only.’” 11 Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Mark 1:12 Immediately the Spirit *impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.
Luke 4:Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around [a]by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” 5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of [b]the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and [c]its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore if You [d]worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” 9 And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,’ 11 and, ‘On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” 12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.
The passage in Mark is only a brief commentary. The Matthew and Luke passages are identical, except for the reversal of the 2nd and 3rd temptations.
This article is really long already and the Greek is not particularly illuminating for these passages as it is straight forward.
The most important thing to take note is the solid frame which Jesus presents to Satan. In a sense, frame as used in terms of game is about maintaining integrity to yourself. However, as Christians we are not called to maintain integrity towards ourselves but rather instead towards our Creator.
Satan: “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
Jesus: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Satan: “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus: “[b]On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Satan: “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and [c]worship me.”
Jesus: “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and [d]serve Him only.’”
In this passage, Jesus shows an impregnable frame against the first and greatest temptor, Satan. Jesus is not wishy washy, but He knows who He is in God and will not compromise on what He knows is right. This is the same mentality that we as Christians should have towards one another.
God’s message to the Church in Laodicea in Revelation 3 can be directed straight at Christian nice guys:
Revelation 3: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will [l]spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,
The common saying “If you don’t know what you stand for then you don’t stand for anything” is indeed true in regard to our interactions with both men and women. And to Christian women specifically being a wishy washy man, one who is an amorphous nice guy, is a surefire way to be unattractive.
This aspect of masculinity is the strong, courageous, decisive, opinionated, and disciplined personality that Christian men need to foster within themselves to be men of God.
It is important to be true to God, rather than be true to yourself.
Part 3 — Conclusions
The main themes of masculinity within the baptism of Jesus, and the temptation of Jesus are the following:
- Jesus is not afraid of reframing the attitude of John (John’s false humility) in order to foreshadow and fulfill the path that was set before Him.
- Jesus is not afraid to stand up the temptor, Satan, and reframe the entire interaction from “how can Jesus give into his own desires” into “how can Jesus stay true to what God desires.”
These are important points because in each case the strength and courage of personality shine through in Jesus’ interactions with John and Satan. One meant for good, and one meant for evil; however, similar in their nature of interaction.
Jesus time and time again demonstrates the impregnability of his frame in his interactions with women, men, and non-human beings. He knows His mission and who He is serving, and is thus decisive, strong, courageous, opinionated, and disciplined in His personality to do what He was called to perform here on this earth. This shines forth in all of his interactions.
May the grace of God be on our lives as we aspire to become masculine men like Jesus.