“With Whom I Am Well Pleased:” Understanding the Baptism of Our Lord

After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:16-17

Why did Jesus get baptized? He’s the Son of God, so he didn’t have original sin, or any sin for that matter. As part of the trinity, didn’t he already have the Holy Spirit? So, did Jesus have to get baptized?

Jesus’ Baptism marked the beginning of his earthly ministry. It wasn’t until after John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan that he began preaching, healing, and exorcising demons. These things that Jesus did during his ministry allow us to reach the Father. Just like Jesus died so that we could have eternal life, he was baptized so that we could be born again and begin our relationship with our Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus during his Baptism so that it could descend upon us during our own Baptism.

In my diocese, Confirmation preparation takes three years, beginning in 9th grade and concluding in 11th grade. During my first year of Confirmation classes, we spent a lot of time learning about the Sacrament of Baptism. We learned that we receive the Holy Spirit for the first time in Baptism, and then we’re sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, when we become full members of the Church and soldiers of Christ. In this way, Confirmation completes what began in Baptism. We began our Confirmation classes by praying, “I, (name), am God’s beloved son/daughter, with whom, he is well pleased.” This mantra imitated our Heavenly Father’s announcement when Jesus was baptized, and reminded us that by our Baptism, we become beloved children of God.

Click here to read My Confirmation Journey!

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At first, John the Baptist was hesitant to baptize Jesus. I don’t blame him; I wouldn’t feel worthy to do so either. Jesus replied to John’s hesitation by saying “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:16). Getting Baptized was part of God’s will for his Son, desiring that Jesus start his ministry with his Baptism. Everything Jesus did during his earthly ministry, including getting baptized, pointed toward our Salvation. As you celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord today, remember your own baptism and reflect on it through the lens of Jesus’ Baptism. Through this sacrament of initiation, we receive the Holy Spirit and become our Heavenly Father’s beloved children.

Never forget that you are a beloved child of God, and he is well pleased with you.

Stay radiant!

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