Question: If Jesus didn’t sin, why did he need to be baptized?
Answer: From the earliest days of St. John the Baptist, baptism has been a sign of repentance and forgiveness of sins. Now Jesus has instituted it as a sacrament, with real power to cleanse us from original sin and adopt us as children of God. But if Jesus wasn’t affected by original sin, nor did he willingly choose sin, why would he need to be baptized?
The Catechism lists four primary reasons for the Incarnation. One is that “the Word became flesh to be our model of holiness” (CCC 459). St. John Paul II wrote that “all of Christ’s life was a continual teaching.” In other words, many of Jesus’ actions were not only for the action itself, but to model certain things for us. In becoming man, Jesus is not so loft that he expects things of us he isn’t willing to do himself. We see this most poignantly in his passion and death. In his baptism, Jesus identifies with sinners and gives us a model of what we ought to do – repent, be cleansed, and receive the grace of God!