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EXPLAINER: When Was Jesus Really Baptized?

Many people confuse the important events in the life of Jesus. Here is a rundown of what’s what!

The baptism of Jesus is one of the important events that is celebrated by the Catholic Church. But unfortunately, this day is often confused with other equally-significant days in the life of Jesus Christ, such as the Feasts of Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and Finding Jesus in the Temple.

So where and when exactly did the baptism of Jesus occur? The Gospels tell us that Jesus was baptized on the banks of the Jordan River, and that He was neither a baby nor a child when this happened. In fact, He was already 30 years old when He was baptized, and the event marked the beginning of His public ministry!

My Pope Philippines gives you a rundown of the important events in the life of Jesus — and explains what is what!

Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

Presentation at the Temple by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, 1342 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence) (Photo from Wikipedia)

Here, the child Jesus was brought to Jerusalem and presented to the Lord in order to be consecrated, as prescribed by the Law of Moses. It is not to be confused with His circumcision. (Read: Prayer for the Feast of the Presentation of Mary)

The Presentation was usually done 40 days after one’s birth, which is why the Catholic Church celebrates this feast, often called Candelaria, every February 2. The event also refers to the ritual of purification done by mothers after childbirth. Here, the priest Simeon also recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. When praying the Rosary, this is the fourth Joyful Mystery.

Finding Jesus in the Temple

The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple by William Holman Hunt (Photo from Wikipedia)

This fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, meanwhile, is the only event in the life of the pre-teen Jesus that is mentioned in the Gospels. When He was 12, the family went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. After the festival, the family headed home but Jesus chose to stay behind. (Read: Here’s What the Pope Wants You to Know About Praying the Rosary)

Mary and Joseph only realized that Jesus was not with them a day after their departure, so they headed back to Jerusalem. Here, they found Jesus discussing with the elders of the Temple who were amazed at His wisdom. This is when Jesus uttered that Mary and Joseph shouldn’t worry because He was in His Father’s house. This story shows the importance of family and Jesus acknowledging that He is the Son of the Father.

Baptism of Our Lord

‘The Baptism of Christ’, c. 1505 by Gerard David (Photo from Wikipedia)

The Baptism of the Lord is not to be confused with the Presentation at the Temple. This event that happened later in Jesus’ life— when he was 30 years old— introduces Jesus as the Son of the Father. (Read: Prayer for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord)

It was God Himself who made this revelation when Jesus came out of the Jordan River. This is the first among the Rosary’s Mysteries of Light, a set of events in Jesus’ life that reveals who He truly is.


Text by Idge D. Mendiola.

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