Mike asked:

If Jesus was conceived without sin then why did he need to be baptized?

Jimmy Akin replied:

"There are two reasons that are commonly proposed. One of them is proposed in the bible itself. If you look at John chapter one, there is a place where John the Baptist is being asked is he the Christ? And he says no I'm not. And people ask him then well why are you baptizing if you are not the Christ, if you're not Elijah, and if you're not the prophet? ... People some how associated a baptism of repentance with those figures ... And John replies by saying I baptized so that the one who comes after me might be revealed because the one who sent me, God, told me that the one on whom you see the Holy Spirit descend and remain, He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. And that's why John says I came baptizing that he might be revealed to Israel.

John's explanation of this, at least in part is, that he knew by divine revelation that at some point he would be baptizing and he would see the Holy Spirit descend and remain on someone and that person would be the coming one, the messiah, the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, in John's own words. Part of why Jesus was baptized was so that his identity as the messiah might be revealed and that John might proclaim him as such.

There is another common explanation. This one is not in the bible, but it also makes sense. Just like there were various Old Testament ceremonies that were done that for other people had a reference to sin, Mary and Jesus participated in them because they were Jews. And so they conformed to the Jewish law even though they didn't personally have sin, one of them being circumcision ... In the same way people have said Jesus was baptized not because he needed it himself ... but because he was founding the Christian community and he was setting an example for us."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2014)

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Show air date: July 10, 2014

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 30:38

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