When Jesus was baptized by John in the waters of the Jordan, what was actually transpiring? According to Barth, Christ through his baptism publicly acknowledged and committed himself to carrying out his unique role as Messiah and Savior. As such he took up the task of living wholly for God and wholly for man. This was the first step in fulfilling “the covenant which God resolved upon from all eternity, which He set up with Israel (yet already with a view to all mankind) and which, in virtue of His great love, in spite of man’s unfaithfulness, He willed to bring to its goal in Him, the Son of God as true Son of Man. God for man and man for God is the fulfilled covenant, the accomplished reconciliation, the ministry of Jesus Christ.”
In baptism, Christ stood in “solidarity with men” and placed himself “unconditionally at God’s disposal.” Thus, baptism became the initial public act whereby Jesus accepted his role as mediator between humankind and God. It was an eschatological event that led to the cross, and would culminate in the kingdom of God on earth.