John the Baptist, sometimes referred by the Jews as John the Immerser, said in Luke 3:16 - "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I...He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
Beginning in Luke 7:24 Jesus defends John the Baptist's position and what he was doing. He goes on to say in verse 28, "...yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." Yet Jesus insists that John must baptize him. Why? Look at Matthew 3:15, '"But Jesus answering said to him, "permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."' Then John baptizes Jesus in the Jordan river.
Let's fill in with a little background information here. The Jordan River has always been a place of change. When Israel crossed the Jordan, they went into the Promised Land. At Mt. Nebo they looked down to the Jericho Valley, across the Jordan to what was lush.
Jesus had to go to John the Baptist rather than Caiaphas. Josephus, a Jewish historian at the time of Jesus, in his book Wars of Antiquity, gives an explanation of why Caiaphas was the High Priest at the time of Jesus' crucifixion. The office of the high priest was corrupted by this time. It had become a political position, so Caiaphas was appointed by the Governor of Rome. Caiaphas was High Priest but not legally according to Jewish law.
Let's look at the lineage of John the Baptist. Luke 1:5 - "In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth." John the Baptist's father was a priest of the lineage of Aaron and Elizabeth, his wife was also a descendant of Aaron.
Again, why did Jesus have to be baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River? Well, remember the Jordan signifies a place of change. John was a descendant of Aaron's and since his father, Zacharias, was the priest, John by the Jewish legal law was next in line. This explains the verse in Hebrews 7:12 which states, "For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also." The priesthood had to move from Aaron to Melchizedek. John the Baptist forbade Jesus but Jesus said in Matthew 3:15, "...for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."
John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins. John the Baptist was reared in a priestly family and knew Jesus was the Lamb of God. (John 1:29 and Luke 1:44)
Jesus, the King of the Jews, came to the Jordan to John the Baptist, who was the legal heir by genealogy, though not received by the Jews. As Jesus rises up from the waters of the Jordan, the King of the Jews becomes the King of Righteousness (remember the meaning of Melchizedek), and the Priesthood is now changed! The mantle is passed by water immersion.
Now, let's take a look at what happened at the trial of Jesus. Read Exodus 28:31-32, "You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. There shall be an opening at its top in the middle of it; around its opening there shall be a binding of woven work, as like the opening of a coat of mail, so that it will not be torn." Now read Leviticus 10:6 which tells of Aaron's two sons putting a strange fire on the Golden Altar. God struck them dead. Moses said to Aaron and the other sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, "...do not tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation."
It has been the custom in the past for Jewish men to reach and tear their garments at the neck if angry or in mourning. However, with the ephod it was constructed in such a way so as not to be torn.
I'll continue this in my next post and I'll resume at the trial of Jesus with Caiaphas. Until next time....