Did Jesus speak on the significance of baptism with the words ascribed to him by tradition?
People came often to Jesus that he might baptize them.
But Jesus did not baptize.
And it happened one day that some came to him and asked: "Master baptize us that we may be cleansed of our sins!"
But Jesus looked upon them, and he said: "Tell me, how often do you cleanse your bodies?"
The people wondered at his words. But they answered him and said: "After our daily toil we cleanse ourselves of the dust of the road and the sweat of our bodies."
Again, Jesus asked: “Tell me, do you cleanse yourselves today of that which will cling to your bodies tomorrow?”
Then they answered: "This we do not; we cleanse ourselves today of that which has today soiled us, and tomorrow of that which will tomorrow soil us."
Then answered Jesus: "Yes, this you do, for the other cannot be done. Therefore, I tell you: each day shall you repent of your sins and each day shall you ask the Lord's forgiveness; for He forgives you not today what you sin tomorrow. I tell you truly that that which is, the Lord our God can forgive; but that which is not 8 He cannot forgive. Yes, I tell you: if each day you repent and pray for forgiveness, then on the day of your judgment shall you of a certainty be fully pure; for then shall no evil thought bear witness against you, and no false words shall judge you."
But when he had said this, the people answered: “John baptizes all who come to him.”
Then Jesus looked at them, and he said: "John has shown you the way; go and do as he has shown you, and as I have told you."
But they wondered at his words.
And they went from him to John, and they let themselves be baptized by him; for they understood not the words of Jesus.9
8) Many of the apostles and followers of Jesus believed that baptism not only cleansed one of past but also of future sins. Jesus tried to remove this misconception, always explaining that baptism was symbolic only. See chapter 20.
9) As Ardor, by narrating the aforementioned episode from the life of Jesus, has only indirectly answered the question put, refer to the Commentary to Ardor’s Account, chapter 19.