What do you think the purpose of the Messiah having the Spirit descend on Him like a dove was in Matt 3:16? And why did it descend on Him? Didn’t He already have it? Also, why was He baptized? What does “..to fulfill all righteousness” mean?
You have asked a good question. We were just in a parade on Labor Day with a Scripture float, and we handed out Gospel tracts before the parade started. An elderly man I talked to brought up the matter of the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus at His baptism, and the significance of it.
As to whether the Holy Spirit was already with Jesus, the answer is “Yes.” “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (Holy Bible, I John 5:7). God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are One, so they are always together.
It is interesting that we are told to get baptized, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” in Matthew 28:19. All three Persons of the Trinity are to be mentioned. It is interesting that all three members of the Trinity are seen or heard at Jesus’ baptism (Holy Bible, Matthew 3:16,17). Jesus is seen there in the water. The Holy Spirit is seen as a dove descending upon Him. The Father is heard from heaven.
Another part of your question was as to why Jesus was baptized, and what His statement to John meant.
One important thing to consider is THE MEANING OF BAPTISM. It pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Holy Bible, Romans 6:3-5). For us, that means picturing our death to the old life of sin, and a new life in Christ to serve Him. That is why it is often referred to in Scripture as “the baptism of repentance” (like in Mark 1:4). Baptism is a public identification. In our case, our public identification with Jesus Christ, and our desire to live a new life in Him.
In the case of Jesus, He had never sinned. But His submitting to baptism did several things.
First, IT LEFT AN EXAMPLE FOR US TO FOLLOW. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (Holy Bible, I Peter 2:21). By Him submitting to baptism, it left that example for us to follow.
Second, IT OPENLY IDENTIFIED JESUS WITH JOHN’S MESSAGE, THAT IT WAS FROM HEAVEN. Remember what Jesus said to the religious hypocrites in Matthew 21:23-27? They would not accept that John’s message had been from heaven, because they did not submit themselves to John’s baptism. By Jesus submitting to it, He was openly identifying with John, that his message was from heaven, and that people better repent and get right with God.
Third, by Jesus submitting to baptism, IT WAS ANOTHER PICTURE to give to people of how He was going to die for our sins, and then be buried, and then rise again the third day (Holy Bible, I Corinthians 15:1-4).
In the case of the man that I spoke with at that parade, he believed that a person does not receive the Holy Spirit until that person is baptized. He gave for His proof that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus after He was baptized. Here is a good place to see the great error of saying that Jesus did not have the Holy Spirit until He was baptized.
First, if a person does not have the Holy Spirit, then that person is not even saved. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, HE IS NONE OF HIS” (Holy Bible, Romans 8:9).
Second, if you could not receive the Holy Spirit until you were baptized, and if a person is not saved until he does receive the Holy Spirit, then that would mean that baptism is a part of salvation. But we know from Scripture that baptism is not a part of salvation. “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” (Holy Bible, I Corinthians 1:17). The gospel is found in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and it is said to be the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection. And we see examples of people receiving the Holy Spirit before they were ever baptized.
Such was the case when Peter was preaching. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word…Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (Holy Bible, Acts 10:43-47). These people received the Lord into their hearts as they heard Peter preaching, and immediately they received the Holy Spirit. Then Peter said that they should get baptized.
The thief on the cross had no way to get baptized, because he was dying on that cross, but he believed upon Jesus Christ as His Savior, and Jesus said to him, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Holy Bible, Luke 23:42).
If a person does not have the Holy Spirit, then He is not saved. A person cannot be baptized until he gets saved. “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Holy Bible, Acts 8:36-38).
I have some questions for you now. Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as Your personal Savior? Is He your full and only hope of heaven? Have you been baptized under the water since you have been saved? Are you living a new life in Christ now? Are you living like a Christian ought to live? I would encourage you to read the King James Bible every day, and the Lord will guide and direct you.