In the Bible, the first mention of baptism is in reference to the baptism of Jesus Christ. All four of the Gospel writers tell the story (Matthew 3, Mark 1:1-11, Luke 3:1-22, John 1:19-34). In all four cases, they use the word “baptism” or “baptize” without explanation. They take it for granted that their readers already know what baptism is.
Likewise, the first references to baptism in the Book of Mormon are about the Savior, and the word is introduced with no explanation. Six hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Lehi taught his family that the Messiah would be baptized in Bethabara, beyond Jordan (1 Nephi 10:7-10). Shortly afterward, Lehi’s son Nephi saw the baptism of the Savior in a vision:
And I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, of whom my father had spoken; and I also beheld the prophet who should prepare the way before him. And the Lamb of God went forth and was baptized of him; and after he was baptized, I beheld the heavens open, and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove (1 Nephi 11:27).
Near the end of Nephi’s writings, he teaches us the significance of this event:
- He gives two reasons why the Savior chose to be baptized, even though He was perfect: to humble Himself before the Father and to be obedient to all of the Father’s commandments (2 Nephi 31:7).
- The Savior’s baptism was an example for us all. If even He needed to be baptized “to fulfill all righteousness,” then don’t the rest of us, who fail far short of His standard of conduct, also need to be baptized? (2 Nephi 31:5)
- If we want to be His disciples, then we should be willing to do the things He did, including “following [our] Lord and [our] Savior down into the water.” (2 Nephi 31:13)
- Just as the Holy Ghost descended like a dove upon Him, we will also receive the Holy Ghost if we will choose to be baptized (2 Nephi 31:8, 13).
Today, I will be grateful for the perfect example of the Savior, including His willingness to humbly and obediently participate in the ordinance of baptism. I will be grateful for the promised gift of the Holy Ghost, which we receive after we are baptized. I will recommit to follow the Savior’s example, to humble myself before God, and to obey the commandments I have received from my Heavenly Father.