When Did Jesus Get Baptized?
According to Bible chronology, Jesus got baptized in the autumn of A.D. 27 (Matthew 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–22). The Bible tells us, “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar… the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins”; “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized” (Luke 3:1-3, 21).
In ancient times, it was the common custom to date incidents by the regnal years of a ruling king or by the names of officials under whom the events took place. There was no universal chronology in any way like what we use today. Luke seems to have been using the kind of chronological calculation then used among the Jews. On the basis of a fall-to-fall year and the nonaccession-year system for figuring regnal years, the first year of Tiberius would be seen to have closed in the autumn of A.D. 14. Correspondingly, his “fifteenth year” would start in the autumn of A.D. 27 and reach till the autumn of A.D. 28. The baptism of Christ took place during the fall of A.D. 27, and thus very early in the “fifteenth year” of Tiberius.
John the Baptist had possibly been preaching for about six months by then (Matthew 3:1). Inasmuch as the baptism of Christ occurred in the autumn, it is reasonable to believe that it may have occurred during a festival. The autumn was the time of three important festivals: Rosh Hashanah, or the festival of the blowing of the trumpets (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1); Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16); and the Feast of Tabernacles (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:34). At the third festival all males were expected to appear before the Lord at Jerusalem (Exodus 23:14–17).
The Holy Spirit was guiding both John and Jesus to this date. Though Jesus and John were related by blood, they had no direct acquaintance (John 1:31–33). John had heard of the events connected with the birth and childhood of Jesus and believed Him to be the Messiah. Also, it had been revealed to John that the Messiah would seek baptism at his hands, and that a sign would then be given identifying Him as the Messiah (John 1:31–33).
Jesus came to John at the Jordan to be baptized. But John refused saying, “‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus said to him, ‘permit it to be so now, for it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him” (Matthew 3: 13-15). John realized his own unworthiness when Jesus asked him to baptize Him.
It was not proper to baptize Jesus in acknowledgment of personal sins, for He had no sins of which to repent but as our example it was fitting for Him to accept baptism. After the baptism, John announced to all, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water” (John 1:29-31).
Jesus’ baptism was an example for the sinner to receive not only forgiveness but also cleansing. His baptism symbolized the sinner’s death and resurrection to the newness of life (2 Corinthians 5:21). The sinner’s sins were counted to Christ, as if they were His, so Christ’s righteousness is credited to the sinner as if it was his.
In His service,