On the face of it, one of the odder things that Christians do. Dipping people under water, fully clothed, while a crowd of people look on and cheer.
Why do we do it?
Reason number one: because Jesus told us to. And why did He tell us to?
I explained it last night, like this:
Dirty people need a bath. Dead people need a burial. Orphaned people need adoption. Baptism is all three.
A bath? Ok, so not a very conventional one (one doesn’t normally bathe fully clothed, or watched by others – certainly not in Church meetings!) This is an inside wash, a cleansing of the moral dirt of our hearts and minds. Not that the water is magical – or even “holy” in itself. It’s just that Jesus has removed the stain of our sin by His sacrificial death. Baptism is saying “yes” to Jesus and it graphically demonstrates the cleansing that results from saying “yes” to Him.
A burial? Fact is, we’re all dead men walking. Our sins have separated us from God, the source of life. Our days are numbered. We’re all due a long stay underground. Death is the inevitable result of sin. But – and here’s the big news, the gospel I get so excited about: Jesus dies for us. Yes, for us, instead of us, did our dying for us. He took the death penalty for sin. Faith in Him means faith that He did our dying for us –or to put it another way (as the New testament often does) we did our dying in Him. So baptism is a graphic entry into Christ’s death (down into the water we go) and His burial (out of sight, gone) – and His resurrection! (Up, out, dripping, glowing – alive!)
An adoption? Yes – we’re baptised (immersed, dipped, initiated) into a name. The new family name – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in other words – God! God adopts us into His family. It started with the Father begetting a Son in the Spirit. But now, as we’re joined to the Son in baptism by the Spirit – God becomes out Father! (Did you follow all that? It’s quite something!)
And, as children of God, we’re brothers and sisters – “baptised by one Spirit into one body” – the
Hallelujah! I love baptism – even if it is one of the odder things we do.
And I pray that the three guys we baptised last night will live in the reality of it all the days of their life – and forever after.