And yet Jesus came in the midst of a crowd of sinners to immerse Himself in the Jordan. The problem is not mysterious for him who sees something beyond the most familiar meaning in the rite reinstituted by John. The case of Jesus is unique. The baptism of Jesus is like others superficially, but is justified in other ways. Baptism is not only a washing of the flesh as a symbol of the will to cleanse the soul, a remnant of the primitive analogy of water which washed away material stains and can wash away spiritual stains. This physical metaphor is useful to the symbolism of the crowd, is a necessary ceremony for the carnal eye of the many who need a material help to believe in the immaterial. But it was not made for Jesus.
He went to John that the prophecy of the forerunner might be fulfilled. His kneeling down before the prophet of fire was a recognition of John's quality of true announcer, of his worth as a loyal ambassador who has done his duty who can say now that his work is finished. Jesus submitting Himself to this symbolical inauguration really invests John with the legitimate title of forerunner.
Jesus, about to begin a new epoch of His life, His true life, bore witness by His immersion in water to His willingness to die, but at the same time to His certainty that He would rise again. He did not go down to the Jordan to cleanse Himself, but to show that His second life was beginning and that He will not die, but only seem to die, just as He only seemed to be purified by the waters of the Jordan.