Baptism has always been a subject for debate among believers. Even before Christ died, believers were arguing about baptism. John’s disciples were upset when people began following Jesus around and being baptized by Jesus’ disciples. They believed that John’s influence was decreasing, and they were right!
I feel sorry for John the Baptist because of the disappointing attitude of his disciples. Hadn’t John been the witness of God’s Spirit descending on Jesus at his baptism? Hadn’t John testified to this to everyone who would listen, including his own disciples? Only selfish, worldly motives could be behind John’s disciple’s jealousy of the popularity of Jesus and his disciples, even though they were all on the same mission.
There was no difference between the baptism administered by the two camps; both John and Jesus wanted to prepare Judea for the kingdom to come. This is an important concept to grasp because although most people in Judea called themselves Jews, there was a sharp difference between Jews who were secular and those who cared for spiritual matters. The baptism of repentance was a way to separate out those Jews who were the true children of Abraham, not by blood, but in a spiritual sense. The baptism of repentance was a preparation and a transition from the old covenant to the new covenant.
John completely rejected the jealousy of his disciples. He told his men that Jesus’ rise was the will of God; “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John told his disciples that he was overjoyed by Jesus’ success. This is the one, the Christ. Calling Jesus the Christ, in addition to calling him the Lamb of God, was significant since John was acknowledging Jesus as the Anointed one of God.
John testified that Jesus had received the Spirit “without limit” or “without measure” at the time of his baptism in the Jordan. No other man received the unlimited Spirit of God. Even the apostles only received certain gifts of the spirit from God.
“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:35-36
Yes, baptism was a subject of debate, yet nobody could claim that baptism was a new idea on Pentecost. It’s clear that Jesus taught and advocated baptism for those who wanted to be separate from the secular world,for those who wanted to repent, and for those who wanted to follow him . And, Jesus never changed his message:
“‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
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