“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’”
Who Is John the Baptist?
God sent His Son Jesus as the One who “will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). To take upon the sins of mankind, the Creator of the universe Himself incarnated through the Virgin Mary and came to this earth as the Lamb of Sacrifice. Jesus’ ministries began with His baptism. When Jesus turned 30, He was baptized by John the Baptist.
Who is John the Baptist? Jesus Himself testified that John is the representative of all mankind. Matthew 11:11-13 states, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” Jesus said that among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist. The one, who was greater than all the prophets of this earth such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Habakkuk, and greater than even Moses of the Old Testament, was none other than John the Baptist, the representative of all mankind.
In the Old Testament, the chosen ones of the male descendants of Aaron were anointed as the High Priests. Like the High Priests who passed the sins of the people of Israel onto the goats by laying their hands on its head as the representative of the Israelites, to blot out all the sins of mankind God had to raise John the Baptist as the representative of all mankind and have him pass the sins of the world. God sent John the Baptist to this earth as the last prophet. And the last High Priest was none other than John the Baptist.
As God made sure to pass the sins of all the people of this world only through the descendants of Aaron, He chose a descendant of Aaron as promised—that is, John the Baptist, the greatest of all those born of women—and sent him to this world six months earlier than Jesus to turn many people to “the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
In this way, God raised John the Baptist as the representative of mankind, and through him God passed our sins onto Jesus. John the Baptist came before Jesus as a witness, and from the Word we must find out how he bore witness.
As Aaron passed the sins of the people of Israel to the goat on the Day of Atonement, John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ and thereby passed all the sins of mankind onto Him. It testifies to us how all our sins have been blotted out.
The Mystery of Jesus’ Baptism
As mentioned before, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, as described in Matthew 3:13-17. Because people generally are baptized without even knowing its meaning, baptism is handed out too carelessly to whoever has memorized the Ten Commandments, promises to keep the Lord’s Day, and is willing to recognize the Lord Jesus as his/her Savior. Those who are baptized with a clear understanding of the true meaning of this baptism are extremely rare.
Coming to this earth, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and we must realize why He had to be baptized. We must question why Jesus, who was sinless, had to be baptized. But those who have not received the remission of sin are neither curious about the baptism of Jesus nor are able to know it at all. The mystery of this baptism can be known by only those who have received the remission of sin.
Jesus is the High Priest of the Kingdom of Heaven. And John the Baptist is the representative and High Priest of all mankind. John the Baptist had the authority to pass all the sins of mankind, and Jesus, the Heavenly High Priest, accepted all these sins passed onto Him by giving up His own body as the sacrificial offering before God, and has thereby blotted out the sins of all human beings.
Matthew 3:15 states, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus was baptized at the Jordan River, the river of death. Baptism means to pass on, to be submerged, to cleanse, to burry, or to transfer, and it has the same meaning as the Old Testament’s laying on of hands. As sins were passed onto the sacrificial offering when hands were laid on its head, all our sins were passed onto Jesus when John the Baptist baptized Him. In other words, it was because all the sins of mankind were passed onto Jesus that He was buried vicariously as the sacrificial offering in our place and was condemned. The ritual by which Jesus thus accepted all the sins of mankind from John is baptism.
That Jesus came to this world and was baptized was to fulfill the righteousness of God and to blot out the sins of every human being with no exception. Was Jesus baptized because He was humble? That was never the case. Jesus spoke to John, “permit it to be so now.” Because Jesus came to this world to take upon the sins of mankind, He said, “You shall pass sins to Me and I shall accept them, for it is My task to become the scapegoat before your sight and thereby forgive all your sins.”
Because of our sins, we are bound to hell, tormented, and deceived by Satan, but Jesus came to save such people as us, to make us righteous and turn us into God’s children. When Jesus was baptized and came out of water, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and testified that He was the Son of God. The Holy Spirit is the One who bore witness to Jesus Christ. In other words, God the Father Himself testified through the Holy Spirit that His Son Jesus accepted all the sins of mankind through His baptism.
Because the sins of mankind were actually passed onto Jesus, God tells us that we are sinless. Had Jesus not taken away all sins when He came to this earth, we would still remain as sinners no matter how ardently we believe in Him. Having blotted out all sins, God is telling us, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). It is by believing that we receive eternal life.
John 1:29 says, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” John the Baptist continued to shout out to people that all the sins of mankind were passed onto Jesus through His baptism. It is none other than John the Baptist who shouted, “He is the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
What Is the Sin of the World?
Jesus took away the sins of the world. Jesus took them away by being baptized. Having thus borne the sins of mankind with His baptism, Jesus had to give up His life on the Cross. Jesus took all the sins of the world upon Himself. Through His baptism, He took away the sins of our own fathers and mothers also, for they, too, are the people of the world. All the sins that we commit throughout our entire lifetime, including the sins that we commit without realizing, are the sins of the world. These sins were also passed onto Jesus through John the Baptist. The sins that we committed in our teenage years are also the sins of the world, and so these sins were also passed onto Jesus. Jesus did not just take away the sins of a few special people, but He took away all the sins of every human being.
But only those who believe in this truth, that Jesus accepted our sins through John the Baptist and has forgiven them all, are saved. If we do not believe in this, we cannot but be cast into hell because of it. The gate of Heaven has already been opened a long time ago, but if our hearts still do not believe in the truth, we cannot be saved.
People go to hell because they do not believe in the truth of the water and the Spirit, and because they do not know it. Jesus took away all our sins of the world. All the sins that we have committed, whether in our childhood, in our teens, or in our adulthood, are “the sins of the world,” and they were therefore all passed onto Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God who took upon each and every one of our sins, without ever dividing them into the original and personal sins.
Are the sins that we commit in midlife and senior years not the sins of the world? These are also the sins that we commit in this world, and so Jesus took upon these sins as well. Because His love is eternal and vast, Jesus did not divide our sins into the original and personal sins but accepted them all through His baptism.
Had Jesus died on the Cross without first being baptized when He came to this earth, then His death would have been in vain. That we have believed in the Lord and labored for His sake would also be in vain. Were the sins of our own children passed onto Jesus? Let us check.
If you still remain single but will get married and have kids, your children’s sins are also the sins of the world, and therefore they, too, were all passed onto Jesus. The sins of your grandchildren and of their descendants were also passed onto Jesus, and Jesus has atoned for all these sins as well. The weaknesses of mankind are also the sins of the world. However Jesus took upon these sins through baptism and shed His blood on the Cross.
Jesus said in John 8:32, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” And it is true. People who keep the Sabbath only as a matter of denominational doctrines and believe that although Jesus took away the original sin they still have to repent their daily sins cannot but continue to become even more sinful. Although they try to live according to the Word of God and do good deeds, the more they try, the more difficult it becomes to devote themselves. They can realize themselves that they are becoming even more sinful before God.
In Jesus Christ, we have already died with Him for our sins, and we have also become alive with Him. There is no other thing that you and I now have to do but to be saved by believing in Jesus, the Savior of sinners who took upon Himself all our sins with His baptism, carried the sins of the world to the Cross and died on it. Believing in this truth, the gospel of the water and the Spirit, is the way to receive eternal life.