On Sunday I heard a refreshing sermon on baptism. Sometimes those basic Christian subjects feel like they get worn out with the telling, but this was not one of those days!
The issue of baptism has niggled at me for a long time. When I was at Bible School, I could not understand how baptism could only be a sign of our new life in Christ. The way the Bible talks about it didn’t sound that way to me. I asked my teachers, “Doesn’t something happen at baptism?” They seemed a little offended at the question, and launched into explanations of why it’s all about the sign.
I still wasn’t satisfied, but who was I to disagree with these learned men?
In this sermon I just heard, the pastor taught the story of Jesus’ baptism and the events surrounding it. I was fascinated with his exposition!
First of all, Jesus received the Holy Spirit at baptism.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;
(Matthew 3:16 ESV)
Second, baptism was a time of God affirming His pleasure in Jesus.
and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
(Matthew 3:17 ESV)
Third, baptism began Jesus’ ministry.
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed
(Luke 4:14-18 ESV)
I had never thought about baptism in this way before. Even though we can’t expect that every baptism will be alike in every way–even the Bible shows a variety of experiences–is it too much to view Jesus’ baptism as a picture of what God desires for all of us? Water baptism accompanied by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, God’s affirmation of our position in Him, and the launch into the ministry God has appointed for us.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another…
(1 Peter 4:10 ESV)
Could it be that these things are supposed to happen at baptism? I can’t tell you how much I like that idea!
What does baptism mean to you?