Why does Jesus accept John’s baptism? After all, John’s baptism calls for a change of heart in view of the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is sinless, entirely free from all contagion.
In this dramatic event, we witness Jesus’ personal solidarity with men and women who are sinners. He takes upon his own sinless shoulders the full weight of our sins.
As Jesus comes out of the waters of baptism, he sees the heaven being torn open (v. 10).
This happens in response to Isaiah’s prayer: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down” (Isa 63:19). Isaiah pleaded with God to rend the heavens so that the LORD would descend in order to bring His flock up from the sea and put His Holy Spirit in the midst of His People (v. 11) and guide them to a new exodus (v. 14).
The image of a dove, a symbol for Israel (cf. Hos 11:11), reveals Jesus as the personal embodiment of a new Israel. Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prayer.