Did Jesus Baptize Anyone in Water?
We know that before Jesus started His public ministry here on earth, John the Baptist baptized Jesus in water. When Jesus asked John to baptize Him, John’s reply was something we’d all say in that situation: “No way Jesus…I shouldn’t be baptizing you! You need to baptize me instead!”
Jesus doesn’t appear to baptize John the Baptist, but did He baptize anyone else?
Jesus directed the baptism of people, but He did not baptize people. In other words, Jesus was teaching people, instructing them to be baptized, and was present during the baptisms, but He wasn’t the one doing the baptism. Only His disciples baptized people.
We read about this in John chapters 3 and 4.
“After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!’”John 3:22-26 NKJV
John’s disciples look across the Jordan river and see Jesus and His disciples baptizing lots of people. Before Jesus started His ministry, people were going out into the wilderness, where John the Baptist was, and they were baptized by John.
Now, Jesus shows up and appears to be taking over.
People are no longer seeking John, but Jesus. John then explains to his followers that his purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus, the Savior. John says that his ministry must decrease, and Jesus’ ministry must increase.
The verses in John 3 appear to say that Jesus was the one baptizing people, but there’s more context in John 4. It’s important to note that when the Bible was being written there weren’t any chapter or verse numbers, so even though it’s the next chapter, these next verses are just a few sentences later.
“Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples).”John 4:1-2 NKJV
This verse further explains what happened in John 3. Jesus wasn’t the one baptizing people—it was actually His disciples.
This is similar to the feeding of the 5,000 and the miracle of turning water into wine. Jesus did the miracle, but His disciples were the ones to hand out the bread and fish to people.
Why didn’t Jesus baptize anyone?
Notes like the one in John 4:2 are common in the gospel of John, and add context to the verses. The writer of John saw that it was important to add the context that it was the disciples baptizing, not Jesus Himself.
Biblical scholars say that Jesus did not baptize people because He needed to distinguish Himself from John the Baptist.
I also think that Jesus had His disciples baptizing people to avoid people bragging about who baptized them. I can imagine some people thinking being baptized by Jesus was better than being baptized by a disciple.
Paul addresses some division in 1 Corinthians 1 because people were bragging about being baptized by Paul. Jesus wanted to avoid this. And the truth is, it doesn’t matter who baptizes you.