In his dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus taught that Baptism was
necessary for salvation. "No one can enter the kingdom of God without
being born of water and Spirit" (Jn 3:5). After his Resurrection, Jesus
met with the eleven Apostles and gave them the commission to preach the
Gospel and baptize, telling them, "Whoever believes and is baptized will
be saved" (Mk 16:16).
The word baptism in its origins is Greek and means
"immersion" and "bath." Immersion in water is a sign of death and
emersion out of the water means new life. To bathe in water is also to
undergo cleansing. Saint Paul sums up this truth when he says, "You were
buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him
through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col
The origin and foundation of Christian Baptism is Jesus.
Before starting his public ministry, Jesus submitted himself to the
baptism given by John the Baptist. The waters did not purify him; he
cleansed the waters. "He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake . . .
to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water" (St. Gregory
Nazianzen, Liturgy of the Hours, I, 634).
Jesus' immersion in the water is a sign for all human beings of the
need to die to themselves to do God's will. Jesus did not need to be
baptized because he was totally faithful to the will of his Father and
free from sin. However, he wanted to show his solidarity with human
beings in order to reconcile them to the Father.
By commanding his disciples to baptize all nations, he established
the means by which people would die to sin—Original and actual—and begin
to live a new life with God.