Sunday, February 17, 2008
The Baptism of Jesus
Why did Jesus Christ wait until the age of 30 to be baptized? The Lord explained in JST Gen. 17: 11 that children were circumcised at eight days old to remind us that children are not accountable until the age of eight. It is the common practice in the Church today to baptize at the age of eight and because of the scripture in Genesis it appears as though that was the custom anciently.
When Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon, he and Oliver Cowdrey came across a scripture about baptism. They were inspired to seek some instruction regarding the matter and as a result John the Baptist appeared to them and confered the Aaronic Priesthood. Immediately after that Joseph and Oliver baptized each other. Follwing the organization of the Church Joseph and Oliver were once again baptized. A person is baptized for a few purposes, one of which is for a remission of their sins. When Joseph and Oliver were initially baptized it was probably done for this reason. Another purpose of baptism is for entrance into the Church of Jesus Christ. During their first baptism there was no church to be baptized into, therefore Joseph and Oliver were under the necessity of being re-baptized. HC 1:39-40
A similar situation is found in the Book of Mormon. Prior to the visit of the Savior to the Nephites baptism was practiced among the faithful. During his visit Jesus Christ instructed those he taught to be baptized. Joseph Fielding Smith explains why:
"There is nothing strange in the fact that when the Lord came to the Nephites, Nephi was baptized and so was everybody else although they had been baptized before.
"The Church among the Nephites before the coming of Christ was not in its fulness and was under the law of Moses. The Savior restored the fulness and gave to them all the ordinances and blessings of the gospel. Therefore, it actually became a new organization, and through baptism they came into it. (III Nephi 9:15-22; 11:10-40; 12:18-19; 15:4-10.)" AGQ 3:205
It is possible the Savior waited until the age of thirty to be baptized because he didn't need baptism prior to this time to receive a remission of his sins because of his sinlessness.
Another possibility is that he was baptized at the age of eight to fulfill the requirement and then was re-baptized at the age of thrity for entrance into his Church which he was in the process of organizing.