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Baptism and Coming of the Messiah


The Jewish leaders had associated baptism with the coming of the Messiah. That was why they sent priests and Levites to John, asking him whether he was the Messiah, Elijah, or the Prophet (Jn 1:19-28). Only these three were supposed to baptize. When John said none of them, they questioned him for the reason of his act of baptism. John’s reply was based on Isaiah 40:3. “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (Jn 1:23). Jesus later identified John with the second coming of Prophet Elijah (Mt 17: 12-13) as Malachi prophesied in 4:5-6.

Besides Messiah and Elijah both representing Jesus and John, the reference of “the prophet” was based on Deuteronomy 18:15, where Moses said: “A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kindred; that is the one to whom you shall listen.” In the transfiguration scene in Mathew 17:5, we read: “then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’” Thus, the Father identified Jesus as the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15.

Since the Bible associated baptism with the coming of the Messiah, the baptism of Jesus and John were signs of the imminent coming of the Messiah. John confirmed this by his proclamation that he was preparing the way for the one who was coming after him.


John’s baptism was like the Sacrament of Reconciliation for repentance and forgiveness of sins in preparation to receive Jesus and to join his kingdom. Jesus baptized his disciples with the Holy Spirit. Through the baptism Jesus established, we have become members of the church. Let us keep up the grace we received to be members of God’s kingdom in this world and the eternal kingdom after our death.


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