The Baptism of Jesus

According to the gospel accounts, Jesus was about thirty years old when his cousin John baptized him (c. 26 C.E.). This event marked the beginning of his ministry—his preaching and teaching in Jerusalem and the surrounding area known today as the Holy Land. The fact that his baptism is recorded in all four of the gospels (Mt 3.13-17, Mk 1.9-11, Lk 3.21-22, Jn 1.29-34) marks it as a significant turning point in the story of his life. According to each account, Jesus arrived to the Jordan River in Bethany from Nazareth to submit to the purification of his cousin John's baptism. John was an ascetic prophet and preacher who lived in the wilderness. A member of the sectarian Qumran community, he wore clothing made of camel's hair, ate locusts and honey, and demanded repentance and baptism for anyone who wished to prepare for the coming of the kingdom of God. He denied that he was the Messiah and he promised that someone was yet to come who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire and whose sandals he was not fit even to carry (Mt 3.11, Mk 1.7-8, Lk 3.16, Jn 2.26-27). In the synoptic gospels (Mt 3.17, Mk 1.11, Lk 3.22), when Jesus entered the Jordan River to be baptized by John, the heavens opened and the dove of the Holy Spirit appeared; as he emerged from the water, a voice was heard proclaiming, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."

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