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Answering The Atheist
March 3, 2002 / Volume 2, Issue 9

Where was Jesus three days after his baptism? Do Mark 1:12 and John 1:35 contradict?

I would suggest that the question has not read John 1 carefully enough. Indeed, in Mark 1 we have an account of Jesus' baptism recorded, and in verse 12, Jesus was "...immediately..." taken "...into the wilderness..." The questioner has assumed that the account of His baptism in the book of John is in the present tense, as it is in Mark. Let us note a few things from John 1.

  1. Verse 19 sets the context. The things which are present are John the baptist's testimony regarding who he is (19-25) and of the One who is among them who is greater than he (26-27).

  2. Verse 28 identifies the location where this conversation took place, and where John had been baptizing.

  3. Verse 29, on "...the next day..." John sees Jesus and bears witness that He is "...the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" He says that this is the One that he was speaking about on the previous day (30).

  4. Verse 31-33, John tells us how Jesus was revealed to him (and to Israel). It was by His baptism. Notice, John's words do not necessarily infer that Jesus had been baptized that day. In fact, he makes no mention of when he had baptized Him.

  5. Verse 34, having seen, John testifies that Jesus " the Son of God."

  6. Verse 35-36, on "...the next day..." John again bears witness to Jesus, directing his own disciples to the Lord.

The questioner devises a contradiction by inferring something the text does not. Since verse 35 speaks of John seeing Jesus the day after he spoke of baptizing him, and further in the context ("...on the third day...", 2:1) Jesus is going to a wedding in Cana, and not the wilderness, it ought to be understood that John is speaking of Jesus' baptism at least 40 days after the fact. I might see a woman, and point out to someone, 'That woman is a Christian, I baptized her into Christ.' Does that necessarily infer that she was baptized that same day? Of course not, and neither do John's words reveal anything about the time of Jesus' baptism.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible