Read about John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-6.
Read about the Lord’s baptism in Matthew 3:13-17.
Ideas for Discussion
- How did John the Baptist prepare the way for the Lord? (He baptized people in the Jordan River and encouraged them to repent.)
- What did John do when the Lord came to Him? (John recognized Him and didn’t think he should baptize Him. But the Lord asked John to do it, and he did.)
- What happened right after the Lord was baptized? (The spirit of God descended like a dove and “alighted” on Him—that is, landed on Him.)
- What did the voice from heaven say? (“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).)
- The Lord wanted to be baptized by John because He wanted to show us that baptism is important and is something we should do.
- When John baptized people, they walked into the Jordan River. Water is still used but baptism is done in a variety of ways now.
- What did the waters of the Jordan symbolize? (Water is the symbol for truth. The waters of the Jordan symbolized the truths of the Word that teach us about the Lord.)
- John and everyone else who saw or heard about the Lord’s baptism knew that He was the Messiah promised in the prophecies. (You may want to read the prophecy given in Isaiah 11:1-2.)
- Later in the gospel of Matthew, the Lord told His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
- There are many passages in the Word about water (truth) helping us cleanse our lives. Here is one: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean…. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
Read more about the Lord’s baptism
When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened and John saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:21; John 1:32, 33). This was because baptism stands for regeneration and cleansing, and so does a dove. In heaven doves are often to be seen, and the angels know that they are correspondences of affections and consequently of thoughts about regeneration and cleansing (see True Christian Religion 144).
That baptism was commanded is made clearly evident by John’s baptizing in Jordan (Matt. 3:5, 6; Mark 1:4, 5), that the Lord our Savior Himself was baptized by John (Matt. 3:13-17), and finally that He commanded His disciples to baptize all nations (Matt. 28:19) (see True Christian Religion 668).
[John the Baptist] baptized in Jordan for the reason that entrance into the land of Canaan was through that river, and “the land of Canaan” symbolized the church…and so “the Jordan” symbolized introduction into the church (True Christian Religion 677:4)
John only introduced people into knowledges from the Word respecting the Lord, and thus prepared them to receive Him. But the Lord Himself regenerates a person by means of Divine truth and Divine good proceeding from Him (Apocalypse Explained 475:20).
Projects and activities for all ages
- Baptism of the Lord (ages 4-8)
Use felt tip markers to draw a picture of John baptizing the Lord in the Jordan River. Then dip a paintbrush in water and go over the picture to give the effect of watercolor.
- The Baptism of Jesus (ages 4-7)
Color the pictures. Then hold the picture of the angels behind the picture of the Lord being baptized to show them rejoicing as the Lord begins His public ministry.
- The Baptism of Jesus (ages 4-10)
Connect the dots to make the dove appear in this picture of the Lord’s baptism.
- Baptism and the Dove (ages 8-11)
Color and assemble the pictures to show the dove that appeared and the words that were heard when the Lord was baptized.
- Dove Poster or Mobile (ages 9-14)
The dove symbolizes purification by Divine Truth. Make a poster or mobile with the color picture of a dove and truths which can help us “clean up” our lives.
- Jesus Comes to John the Baptist Coloring Page by Josephine Ellis
This illustration shows the Lord coming to John the Baptist.
- Waters of Jordan (ages 10-17)
The waters of the Jordan symbolize truths that help people learn about the Lord, preparing them to look to Him. Collect passages from the Word that teach us about the Lord. Then make a collage or poster showing John baptizing people in the Jordan River—with some of the quotes from the Word that you like.
- The Lord’s Baptism (ages 4-7)
Put together this project to picture the Lord going into the waters of the Jordan to be baptized.
- “You Are My Beloved Son” Song by Lori S. Odhner
Sheet music for a beautiful song about the Lord’s baptism.
- Preparing for the Lord (ages 12-14)
Compare John the Baptist with Elijah. Elijah prepared the way for Elisha, and John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord.
- The Meaning of Baptism (teens and up)
Look at an illustration of the Lord’s baptism by Julius von Carolsfeld and reflect on the spiritual meaning of various elements in the story.
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