Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Was Christ Immersed?

Brian Crossett


Baptists often argue that if we want to know the proper mode of baptism, what better example could we follow than that of Christ himself? And surely He was immersed and not poured or sprinkled with water …

Rather than follow a merely surface reading of a text (and read into it baptist presuppositions), we shall examine the Scriptures, making several points.

1) Jesus went to John the Baptist for baptism when he was aged about 30 (Luke 3:21-23).

2) John forbade Him saying that he needed to be baptized of Jesus (Matt. 3:14). After all, what use was a baptism for the forgiveness of sins, a baptism "with water unto repentance" (Matt. 3:11), to Jesus who had no sin? Jesus answered John, "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15) Christ came to fulfil all righteousness (Deut. 6:25), and fulfilling righteousness means keeping the law perfectly. But Christ said that He must be baptized for "it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness," that is not only Himself but also John the Baptist. Thus Christ’s baptism by John was a matter of keeping the law, but the question is, What law?

3) After Jesus cleansed the temple, the chief priests and the elders came to Him and asked him, as He was teaching, "By what authority doest thou these things?" (Matt. 21:23). Jesus did not evade the question nor did he change the subject. He answered with a question which addressed head-on the issue of His authority: "I … will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or of men?" (Matt. 21:24-25). Jesus equated the baptism of John with His receiving authority to do the work of a priest, namely cleansing the temple and teaching in the temple. Ordination alone gives a man the authority to do the work of a priest. Could this be what Jesus was referring to?

4) Hebrews 5:4 teaches that a man must be ordained in order to do the work of a priest: "no man taketh this honour unto himself, but him that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee." Clearly, Christ was ordained as was Aaron.

So let us see what took place at Aaron's ordination. First, in Numbers 4:47, we read, "From 30 years old and upward even unto fifty years old, every one that came to do the service of the ministry, and the service of the burden in the tabernacle of the congregation." It looks like we are on the right track (that Jesus’ baptism was His ordination) for Jesus was about 30 (Luke 3:23). Second, how were priests or Levites ordained? Numbers 8:6-7 declares, "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them …"

So what is our conclusion? Christ was ordained as was Aaron.

Both Aaron and Christ were called of God.

Both Aaron and Christ were ordained when aged 30 or more.

Both Aaron and Christ were ordained by one already ordained (Moses and John the Baptist, respectively).

How were they ordained? Aaron was ordained by sprinkling. Are we to think that Christ was ordained by immersion? Or by sprinkling?