top of page

7. Why did John baptise Jesus?

John protests that he is not worthy to baptise Jesus, but Jesus insists, saying that John was the greatest of the prophets.

So why did John baptise Jesus if Jesus was sinless?

The essence of the Christian faith is that in Jesus God took our humanity and our sin on Himself.

This is symbolised in His baptism.

“For God took the sinless Christ

and poured into him our sins.

Then, in exchange,

he poured God’s goodness into us!”


2 Corinthians 5.21

You find this panel showing the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan depicted in the amazing Great East Window in the John Knox Chapel.

This magnificent five-light window, erected in 1920, is one of the finest examples of the work of the late Dr. Douglas Strachan of Edinburgh. The principal subject, the Crucifixion, occupies the three central lights. Our Lord in his agony hangs upon the Cross. Above, we see Pilate's supersciption I.N.RI. 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews'.

At the top of the window are flights of doves symbolising the descent of the Holy Spirit. On either side are two angelic figures. On the left the figure of Law, in rose-coloured robes, bears a scroll in his hand. On the right the figure of Love, in pale green, holds a chalice. This central composition, with its background of deep blue sky, is completed by the Roman soldiery and onlookers in brilliant colourings of purple, ruby and gold. In the foreground is the tragic figure of the Mother of our Lord being supported by St John the Divine.

John baptised with water but he told his followers that Jesus,"the one who is to come, will baptise with Holy Spirit and with fire".

Water is very important in the Holy Land as we hear in Psalm 63:

'You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life my lips will glorify you.'


Thirst describes people searching for meaning in life.

Finding God is like a thirsty person finding water.

How many different images of water and rivers can you find in the Kirk as you walk around?

Here are just a few more 'water' images to get you started:

God's message Salvation uses the image of water many times

  • Moses parted the water of the Red Sea to save the Israelites

  • 'With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation'

  • Saint Christopher carried the child Jesus across the river

  • “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Water can also be seen flowing throughout the imagery found in the Kirk's Blue Window.

You can find it in the north west corner of the church, close to the Bride's Door. The window features six symbols which are (clockwise from the top left): The Crown, The Gate, The Keys, The River, The Fish, and The Ears of Corn. It was the gift to St John’s by the Council of the City and Royal Burgh of Perth on the occasion of its dissolution when local government was reorganised in 1975.

It is the work of the American stained glass artist Harvey Salvin, who was working in Scotland at the time.


bottom of page