I notice that 2nd temple period Jewish water ablution/baptism for proselytes involved certain protocols, such as:
..Our Rabbis taught: If at the present time a man desires42 to become a proselyte, he is to be addressed as follows: 'What reason have you for desiring43 to become a proselyte; do you not know that Israel at the present time are persecuted and oppressed, despised, harassed and overcome by afflictions'? If he replies, 'I know and yet am unworthy',44 he is accepted forthwith, and is given instruction in some of the minor and some of the major commandments. He is informed of the sin [of the neglect of the commandments of] Gleanings,45 the Forgotten Sheaf,46 the Corner47 and the Poor Man's Tithe.48 He is also told of the punishment for the transgression of the commandments. Furthermore, he is addressed thus: 'Be it known to you that before you came to this condition, if you had eaten suet49 you would not have been punishable with kareth, if you had profaned the Sabbath you would not have been punishable with stoning; but now were you to eat suet49 you would be punished with kareth; were you to profane the Sabbath you would be punished with stoning'. And as he is informed of the punishment for the transgression of the commandments, so is he informed of the reward granted for their fulfilment. He is told, 'Be it known to you that the world to come was made only for the righteous, and that Israel at the present time are unable to bear...'...
Was the confession of sins done by the people coming to John for "baptism unto repentance" spontaneous? Or would the applicant be expected to recite their specific sins either:
- to God
- to Jesus
- to John
- to the public
Or was that what was involved in the question: "What reason have you for desiring to become a proselyte?" IE: "What are your sins"? To which the only acceptable answer was:
"I know and yet am unworthy"
If so, Jesus' response is quite powerful:
"Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness". Then he suffered him."
[Mat 3:6, 13-17 KJV] (6) And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. ... (13) Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. (14) But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? (15) And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. (16) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: (17) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
It appears that John is asking Jesus "What reason have you for desiring to be baptized by me?" which is close to "What reason have you for desiring to become a proselyte?" which Jews would ask their proselytes. If that is an intended allusion then Jesus' response is very profound because instead of saying "I know and yet am unworthy" he says "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." and in response, John permitted him to be baptized! Or as the Talmud says, "He was accepted forthwith!"
So were John's supplicants required to confess their sins? Or perhaps just say "I know and yet am unworthy" when asked the question why they sought baptism? Or was the confession spontaneous?