What is the Baptism of Jesus Christ? In order to understand this, it might help to see it in the light of the baptism of John. The people in the Holy Land had no doubt that John the Baptist had authority to baptize. If there was anything the Jews kept track of, it was whether or not a claim to divine rights was backed up by the correct credentials. And this was important; after all, the rights of the priestly ministry were given only to men of the Aaronic, or Levitical lineage. John was known to have these credentials.
The Jews did not question the very act of baptism, as such! It was not an invention of John. In fact, it was a saving ordinance from the very beginning of time. As long as man have committed sins, baptism for the remission of sins has been necessary for salvation. What made John the Baptist so unique was that he took this ordinance, which had become an ordinance of little or no value to the Jews, who lived a harder, more proud and sinful life as time went on, and put it out there, demanding that people would be baptized for the right reasons!
John was told by his mother and father that the Messiah was born. In fact he was closely related to him! Already while in his mothers womb the Holy Ghost testified to John of Jesus, when Mary, early with the child Jesus came to visit Elizabeth. The mission of John was to “prepare the way of the Lord, and “to make his paths straight”. Have no doubt that it was the followers of John who became the followers of Jesus. Even two of the apostles of John the Baptist were called to be apostles to Jesus. John did, indeed, prepare the ways of the Lord.
To be baptized by John was to be committed to the Messiah. First of all, the person listened and was touched by the gospel preached by John. There was no contradiction in his gospel and the gospel which was later preached by Jesus. The Spirit of truth converted his listeners to his message. His message was clear; we are all sinners and must therefore repent and be baptized. If we don’t, we will be damned! It was clear to everyone who listened to his voice that this baptism was not enough to be saved. It was only the beginning! But he promised that after him would come the greater thing, the Messiah, who would not just baptize with water unto repentance, but who would baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost! One might easily say that this is the baptism of Jesus Christ. It was clear to many of the followers of John that they would at some near future be given over to a mightier man.
The baptism of John is of no worth if it is not followed by the baptism of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist said to his followers that it was the Lamb of God who came to baptize with the Holy Ghost, and to take away the sins of the world. So, baptism in water is unto repentance, which cleansing is then completed in the baptism of the Holy Ghost! In other words, the baptism of water brings people unto Christ, desiring forgiveness; the baptism of Jesus Christ actually cleanses these people. So, in perfect harmony with logic; the baptism of Jesus Christ, or the baptism of fire, is the ordinance through which the blood of the savior is applied to cleanse our soul!
Those who had received the baptism of John had to be re-baptized in order to receive the baptism of Jesus Christ. Since Jesus had to start an entirely new Church, baptism in water also became the ceremony, or gate, through which one have to enter into this Church. Having received the baptism of John had given the baptized the status of wanting the forgiveness of his/her sins. But they had not gone through the initiation rite for membership in the Kingdom. So, before finally receiving the baptism of Jesus Christ, or baptism of fire, or baptism of the Holy Ghost, they first had to be baptized by Jesus, or one of his authorized Apostles or Seventies.