What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About the Baptism of Jesus?

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.

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3 Responses to What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About the Baptism of Jesus?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Paul – Thanks for sharing your posts. Sandy and I admire you for your example of putting the Book of Mormon front and center. Here are some thoughts and concepts I have learned in my studies of Jesus’ baptism and His ministry:
    There were four ways in which Jesus fulfilled all righteousness through his baptism.
    1. v.7 – “He humbleth Himself before the Father”
    2. v.7 – He “witnesseth unto the Father that He would be obedient unto Him in keeping his commandments.” Or in other words, He entered into a covenant relationship with the Father.
    3. v.9 – He showed us the way to the strait and narrow way, and opened to Himself the gate to the celestial kingdom.
    4. v.10 – Upon setting the perfect example for all of us to follow, He said “Follow thou me.”
    5. He is our perfect example in all things. Was it necessary for Him to receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands? Yes – There are references that His Father anointed or ordained him (Luke 4:18; Luke 10:22; John 3:35; D&C 93:4). Likewise the priesthood? Yes. Did He comply with the temple ordinances? Certainly. Nephi answers this in verses 18-19. There is but one path.
    “And then (meaning after baptism) being in the strait and narrow path, we must rely wholly on the merits of Him who is mighty to save.”
    6. This is Nephi’s vision of the ministry of Jesus. It is written in past tense. Or we might refer to it as “prophetic perfect” tense.

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    • Paul Anderson says:

      Thank you for these insights! This is one of those topics where the Book of Mormon adds so much to our understanding of the events and doctrines taught in the Bible. I appreciate you sharing these concepts that you learned from Nephi’s words.
      Have a great day! – Paul

      Like

  2. Pingback: What Is the Relationship Between Baptism and Membership in the Church? | Book of Mormon Study Notes

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