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Luke 3:21–22

“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’ ”

Multitudes of Jews responded to John the Baptist’s ministry, meeting the forerunner of Christ in the wilderness to undergo his baptism of repentance (Luke 3:1–17). Not everyone, however, received John’s words gladly, including Herod the tetrarch—Herod Antipas. Luke tells us that John chastised him for marrying Herodias, the ex-wife of his half-brother Herod Philip. Herodias and Herod Antipas had to divorce their previous spouses to marry one another, and marrying a close relative compounded their sin. Herod Antipas had John arrested for speaking against his unlawful divorce and remarriage as well as against his other sins, bringing an end to John’s ministry (Luke 3:18–20). John’s preaching undermined Herod’s authority, so Herod wanted John off the scene.

Of course, John did not go to jail until after he had baptized Jesus, and Luke’s record of our Lord’s baptism is given in today’s passage (Luke 3:21–22). Luke does not give many details about this event, mentioning only that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove and that God the Father spoke from heaven, identifying Jesus as His beloved Son, the One in whom the Father was well pleased. This marked the beginning of our Savior’s official public ministry as it identified Him as the promised messianic King to those who witnessed the baptism and knew key prophecies such as Psalm 2.

In addition to publicly revealing Jesus as the Messiah, this record of Jesus’ baptism and its parallels in the gospels of Matthew and Mark give us one of the clearest revelations of God as the Holy Trinity in all of Scripture. All three persons of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—are present in Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:21–22), revealing that the one divine essence of our Creator is held in common by three distinct and personal subsistences. The appearance of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the start of our Lord’s ministry also demonstrates that salvation is the common work of all three persons. The Son does not act alone in redeeming us from sin but is sent by the Father and empowered by the Spirit to save His people. All three persons desire and act to effect our salvation, and all three persons’ appearances at Jesus’ baptism show us that none of Them is dispensable in our redemption. Matthew Henry comments, “Fitly is [the revelation of the Trinity] done at Christ’s baptism, who was to make the ordinance of baptism a badge of the profession of that faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

We often focus on Jesus when we are talking about salvation, and this is understandable in light of the Bible’s stress on His work in redeeming us. However, we must not forget that all three persons of the Godhead are active in our salvation. Remembering this will allow us to give our triune God the glory and honor He is due.

  • Genesis 1:1–2
  • Isaiah 32
  • Matthew 28:18–20
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14
  • Leviticus 7–9
  • Matthew 25:31–46

The One Mightier than John

The Son of David

Keep Reading Christianity and Liberalism

From the February 2023 Issue
Feb 2023 Issue