John’s baptism doesn’t stop with repentance: it is also for the forgiveness of sins. Sometimes Christians are tortured into wondering if their sins are forgiven. In such a state of torture, they fear that their eternal destiny is with the grotesque, dark figures in Dante’s Inferno. Such fears can be allayed knowing two truths that we see in Jesus’ baptism for us: First, our conviction and our confession are each incomplete; this we must admit. But, second, Jesus has full perception and conviction and, therefore, makes the truthful confession. Through him our sins are dealt a knockout blow. Because of Jesus’ conviction and confession, our fears about forgiveness can be released.
Even more: we need more than a true confession. What we seek is a clear conscience and (what Dallas Willard calls) a “renovation of the heart.” So, let us return to the full story of Jesus’ baptism: Jesus, with other Israelites, gets into the Jordan. Along with the others, Jesus utters the true confession—for us. And (here’s the renovation part) the Spirit in the form of a dove descends upon Jesus. John promises that Jesus will send that same Spirit to us.
When we tell the truth to the Father, participating with Jesus in the water, we, too, are flooded with God’s Spirit, who is the Spirit that forgives, and the Spirit empowers us to live out the Jesus Creed. A true confession triggers God’s gift of renovation through the Spirit.
Scot McKnight, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others, 245.
*Jesus’ water baptism here, pointing to his baptism of suffering and death through which we are forgiven, followed by his resurrection and exaltation, after which he poured out the Holy Spirit from the Father on all who believed- the new life.