Did Jesus need to be baptized? Was He just setting a good example for us to follow, or was He actually repenting?
Suppose you are eating at your favorite restaurant, and the waiter spills the drinks all over you. I guarantee that the manager is going to come out and apologize all over the place. Why? The manager did not spill the drinks on you. No, but he belongs to a corporation that did. He is apologizing on behalf of the restaurant he represents. So with this mindset, we can say that Jesus was repenting when He was baptized. Not for His sins. He had no sin. But by making Himself one with humanity He was baptized and repented on behalf of humanity.
When Jesus came up out of the water the Father was heard saying,
This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3:17 NKJV
Keep in mind, when the Father was saying He was well pleased with His Son, His Son was representing the entire human race. So by accepting His Son, He was accepting the entire human race!
He made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6 NKJV
But the good news does not end there. What Jesus did for us He also wants to do through us.
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:4-6 NKJV
By baptism we die to self just like Jesus died to self. As Jesus was raised from the grave we are raised to a new life, and now Paul says that God,
raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6 NKJV
There’s a story of a pastor who was waiting for a train at the station, and a man came up to him offering him some Christian literature. The pastor smelled alcohol on his breath, and asked him if he was drinking. The man lowered his head and said Yes. The pastor asked him how he could be witnessing while drinking. The man said, “Jesus lived a perfect life and died for me, so I don’t have to.” The pastor asked, “So Jesus overcame sin so you don’t have to? And died for you so you don’t have to die?” The man said, “Yes!” The pastor replied, “Then Jesus also went back up to heaven so you don’t have to!”
The gospel truth is Jesus died for us so we can die with Him. Jesus lived a victorious life so we can live a victorious life by abiding in Him. And Jesus ascended into heaven so we too can be with Him where He is.