How far would you be willing to walk somewhere? This might be something you are considering due to the rising gas prices. I know they've changed my attitude about the use of vehicles. You know gas is getting expensive when your legs have become an alternative energy source. OK, I might walk five miles regularly and ten on a special occasion. Unfortunately, I would be tempted mightily to tell everyone afterwards how far I walked and then how much my feet hurt. Where did Jesus begin his trip to John the Baptist in order to be baptized by him? Mark 1:9, "And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan." John was baptizing in the Jordan River in Judea in the wilderness close to Jerusalem. How far was that from Nazareth? Jerusalem is seventy miles from Nazareth.
Why would Jesus walk seventy miles to get baptized by John the Baptist? What was special about the baptism of John that necessitated Jesus to go all that way? Couldn't Jesus just have asked Joseph or some other believer to baptize Him and save that trip? A short while later, Jesus gets into a discussion with the religious leaders about the baptism of John. He answered the scribes, the priests, and the rulers who challenged His authority, saying, "The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me" (Mark 11:30). They reasoned among themselves, and came up with an answer: "We cannot tell." They knew that if they said "from heaven" he would demand to know why they did not believe John. Or, if they should say, "of men" they knew they would be in trouble with the people, for all men counted John to be a prophet. So John's baptism, we know, came from heaven.
Most often arguments about baptism center on the recipients and the mode of baptism. Is it for infants or adults or for believers? Is sprinkling or pouring acceptable or should we immerse alone? Those are worthy topics, but does the administrator of the baptism make any difference? Does it matter who we are baptized by? Well, Jesus said John's baptism was from heaven. John's baptism wasn't just some Old Testament ritual. It was a brand new ceremony ordained by the Almighty, John the Baptist the miracle child who grew to be the man the Lord designated the proper agent of this baptism. In John 1:33 we read John say: ". . . he that sent me to baptize with water." John didn't invent this thing of baptism. He got it from above.
The only baptism that God approves of and has authorized is John's baptism. All the members of the first church had the baptism of John including the Head and founder of the church, Jesus Christ, who walked seventy miles in order to be baptized by the proper authority. Jesus believed so strongly in this baptism, He declared that those who rejected it were in reality rejecting the counsel of God in Luke 7:29-30, which states: "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." Not being baptized of proper authority was rejecting the counsel of God.
Where is this authority to baptize today? The authority passed from heaven to John to Jesus to the church. Jesus ordained the group, not just individuals, to baptize in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, 20. That group was the church. Someone may ask, "Isn't Scriptural authority enough." This reasoning would go like this: the Bible commands us to be baptized, so that if folks read the Bible and see that they need to be baptized, they could just baptize one another based upon the authority of the Word of God. Couldn't Jesus have done the same thing? He especially had authority that He could have passed on to anyone He wished. But Jesus walked seventy miles to get baptized of John, an example about the importance of a proper administrator of baptism.
The proper administrator of baptism has become the means by which God's authority is passed from one church to the next. Someone gets baptized with church authority and then sent by that church to evangelize and baptize. Those baptized have a proper administrator of baptism if they are baptized by someone with a legitimate baptism. Not just any administrator will do. It must be someone sent by a true church, a church in the heritage of churches mothered by that original Jerusalem church that originated around John the Baptist and lead by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Roman Catholics, Protestants, Campbellites, and Charismatics have rejected the counsel of God concerning Scriptural baptism; therefore, all true Baptists must consider their administration of baptism null and void.