Q: #441. Did Jesus baptize anyone?
By: Steve Shirley
There is only one place in the Gospels that can be used to say that Jesus baptized
people, and that is found in (Jn 3:22-23) which says, "After these things came
Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.
(23) And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there:
and they came, and were baptized." However, when we continue reading for a few verses, we find that (Jn 4:1-2)
appears to clarify the previous verses, saying "When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard
that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (2) (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)."
***Note: Remember that the Bible was not originally written with chapters, therefore, these verses would flow into each other.
The synoptic Gospels never mention Jesus baptizing anyone. Nearly every scholar agrees that it is unlikely that Jesus baptized anyone. Instead, the thought is that the baptism of Jesus was "with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Mt 3:11-12)(Mk 1:8)(Lk 3:16-17)(Jn 1:33)(Acts 1:5)(1 Cor 12:13).
In addition, if we look at (1 Cor 1:12-15), we see Paul saying this: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. (13) Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (14) I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; (15) Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. (16) And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. (17) For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect."
In other words, people were identifying themselves by, and aligning themselves with the person who had baptized them, when instead, in their baptism they should have been identifying themselves by, and aligning themselves with CHRIST. They were placing more importance on the person who baptized them than on the true meaning of baptism. As a result, it caused division when there should have been unity in Christ. Paul rebuked this thinking, and because of it, he was thankful that he had not baptized many people.
It is thought that this same thing may apply to why Jesus did not baptize anyone. Looking again at (Jn 4:1), it says that people were flocking to the disciples of Jesus to be baptized instead of to John the Baptist. Right after saying this, (Jn 4:3) says that Jesus "left Judea and departed again to Galilee." This was most likely to avoid this same kind of division.
Quoting Matthew Henry, "The benefit of the sacraments depends not on the hand that administers them." The key is not "who" does the baptizing, the key is "why" we are getting baptized.
However, having said these things, we ultimately cannot know for certain that Jesus did not baptize anyone.
For more on baptism, see the following: