Q. Re: Numbers 8 : 6, 7 “Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle the water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.” Based on that, did John the Baptist baptize the Lord Jesus in the river Jordan by “sprinkling” or by “immersion”?
A. The sprinkling referred to in Numbers 8:6-7 was the ceremonial cleansing of the Levites done by sprinkling a few drops of water mixed with the ashes of the Red Heifer on them. Numbers 19 explains the composition and purpose of the water of purifying (cleansing).
Christian baptism is an adaptation of the Jewish bath of purification called the Mikvah. It not only required immersion but also that the water be moving, as in a stream. They called it living water because it made sounds as it moved along (think of a babbling brook) and because moving water sustains life whereas stagnant water does not. John the Baptist, being a Levite trained in the priesthood, would have immersed Jesus in living water.