John the Baptist preaches repentence in the desert and baptizes those who come out to him confessing their sins. I never remembered though that many of the Pharisees and Sadducees came for baptism as well but apparently not really repentant because John warns them that there will be consequences for their sins. Why would the Pharisees and Sadducees come to be baptized without being repentant? To appear repentant? For show? Are they the President who goes to church so everyone can see him go or the priest who shows up at the soup kitchen to be seen helping the poor but doesn't really care about why he should be there? They are every one of us who do something good for the wrong reasons.
It is interesting that while Jesus preaches from town to town going even into synagogues and the temple, John remains outside at a distant from people. The people have to go to John but Jesus comes to the people. John was preaching away from the temple as a testimonial against it, but I still find it interesting he required people to come to him. Usually when we want to preach, we find a platform, a busy street corner, somewhere where we can reach as many people as possible. But John's requirement for people to come to him says something about repentance. It requires work from us. We must, as John puts it, "bear fruit that befits repentance," we must go out from ourselves recognizing that we need a savior.
And Jesus leads the way. Even though he is without sin, he becomes one of us going out to John and purifying the waters and taking on our sins upon himself. In order to save humanity, Jesus has taken on flesh and blood but he must take on the sins of humanity. Through his baptism, he takes our sins upon himself uniting himself with us who repent and profess our need for a savior.