Interestingly enough, Jesus was buried in another man’s grave and if you look at this in a symbolic sense then you could say that Jesus was dying in this man’s place, as he in true reality did for all of us! But the word grave itself also has another meaning, words tend to take on new meanings as time goes by, the word “grave” used to mean “Sheol” or “Hades” which in other words means the underworld. Jesus called the underworld the heart of the earth and He said that He came to give the world the sign of Jonas, He was saying that there would be similarities between Him and Jonas because “…as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40) or in other words, He would spend three days in the underworld (Hades).
So when Jesus came to John the Baptist and was baptised, what we should be picturing when Jesus was submerged into the water was that this was symbolic showing that He was the One that was not only going to die on behalf of mankind but He was also going to go down into the underworld to give hope to the prisoners there also. Some people picture John the Baptist pouring water over Jesus’ head when He was baptised but it is more important picturing Jesus being completely submerged into that water otherwise you will miss the symbolism here, the symbolism literally means that Jesus was going to go down into the grave and rise again three days later and so Jesus was showing John that He indeed was the Messiah that would do this.
We should also picture that when Jesus was submerged into that water He was not only showing His physical death in going down into the grave but He was also showing His spiritual death because God Himself was going to forsake Jesus (whilst He was on the cross), or in other words, Jesus would be left without spiritual life and sustenance from God and this would cut off Jesus’ life and so He would be cut off on behalf of mankind and for their sins because the wages of sin is death and the word “death” itself can also have two meanings, it can mean spiritual death which literally means the absence of God’s spiritual presence in your life or it can mean physical death. Physical death you could say means that you have ceased to work physically and therefore you are broken and so Jesus was also broken (He died of a broken heart) for us and so He died in our place and took upon Himself the sins of the whole of mankind. Jesus re-emerging out of that water shows us that He came back to life for the whole of mankind and at that point the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove showing us that He was truly spiritually alive again and also the Holy Spirit is a comforter and so the Holy Spirit was comforting Jesus like a mother because Jesus had made a bold brave decision here in showing John the Baptist that He was “The One”, that He is the very lamb of God Who would sacrifice Himself, Who would give His Own life on behalf of mankind, no man taking it from Him.
And then a voice from the Father is heard saying “…This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) – “Well Pleased” of course here means completely pleased! Jesus had never done anything wrong and would never do anything wrong in His whole life but still He would die the death of a sinner and would go into the underworld like a sinner and so in this He took a punishment for mankind as a whole and as John the Baptist said of himself, “…I have need to be baptised of thee, and comest thou to me?” (Matthew 3:14) or in other words, John knew that he was guilty of sin and was not even worthy to unloose Jesus’ sandals because he in a sense had mere human hands and would be touching Someone so pure as Jesus and here was Jesus asking someone, a mere man, a mere mortal, a mere corruptible, to baptise Him.
So the only thing that remains for us all to do is to understand all of this and for ourselves to see that Jesus is the One, He in a sense made a promise that day, He’d put His hand to the plough and He didn’t look back, He did everything that He came to do, He gave us all the true example of Love, He went all the way with Love, He said “Greater love have no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13) So Jesus yielded up the ghost on the cross when God forsook Him and then went down into Hades spiritually to save them down there too, if only they would receive Him! We should ALL receive Jesus into our hearts and into our lives, Jesus can turn your whole life around for you, He can even bring you back out of the grave and give you a whole new resurrected body and this is what He came to show us through His very resurrection, that we can all walk in newness of life, not only spiritually, but one day physically too and so in this we will all live forever as long as we have received Jesus into our hearts and into our lives and truly accepted that He has died in our place and rose again!