Today my message is about baptism. To start, the definition of baptism is the Christian spiritual rite of sprinkling water on to a person’s forehead or of immersing them in water; this act symbolizes purification or renewal. Baptism is a symbol of our commitment to God.
Many of us were baptized as babies so we don’t remember the ceremony that was performed. If we were babies then our parents were making the commitment to God for us. Our parents may have told us that it was supposed to be a solemn thing but that we cried and carried on while we were being baptized. But what baby could lie still when there is an unknown person standing over us and talking, whom we can’t understand at the time, and then sprinkles water on our heads. I would think that the baby that lay still throughout the process was not the norm. After all, it had to have been scary for that little baby. However, we acted; this ceremony was the beginning of our Christian life. I was baptized as a baby. I don’t remember if my Mom ever told me about the ceremony and how I acted.
Being baptized by being immersed in water would be a different experience. First of all, you are older than a baby so you are more aware of the significance of what is going to happen. You are making that commitment to God yourself. I think it would take some trust as well. A person who you don’t know well is going to lay you down in a vessel of water be it a tub, or a pool, or a river. So, will that person lay you down in the water and then bring you right back up. You would have to remember to hold your breath and keep your mouth shut so you don’t swallow or breathe in any water. However you were baptized, the significance is still the same.
The scripture that I read today tells of how Jesus came to be baptized by John who was at the Jordan River. Being baptized by John was the way to do repentance from sin. As he was baptizing the people at the river, he told them that he was baptizing them with water, but the One who is coming will baptize the people with the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus got to the place where John was, Jesus got in line for his turn to be baptized. Why would he need to be baptized at all? After all, Jesus is the son of God. However, Jesus knew that to be able to do his ministry, He needed to be baptized just as all the people that were there that day were being baptized. It was a way for his divine word to become human; it was a way for him to dwell with us. He was then able to accompany us in all of our humanity. He needed to drink, he needed to eat. He was embraced and hurt by family; he was supported and deceived by friends. He slept; he shivered from cold and got hot from the heat. He was able to feel the pain of loneliness, the confusion of uncertainty. He was able to be tempted. He became like us, a part of humanity. He carried that humanity with him as he continued his ministry from that point forward until the day of his death on the cross.
By being baptized, we are fully bathed by the saving acts of Jesus. We are adopted as a son or daughter of God. We are transformed by the loving actions of the one who came to identify with us in his own baptism and death. His righteousness becomes our righteousness giving us the foundation of our life in Christ.
If we stumble, it is okay for we are able to confess our failings to God and to ourselves. We are able to have a new beginning, over and over. Martin Luther said, “Day after day a new self arises to live with God in righteousness and purity forever. “
As we journey to the Lenten season, may we remember that day when Jesus was baptized by John to take on humanity so that we could relate to the message that He would teach. That message continues to be important and at times, it is even more important now than it was before. We are human but we need to be more like Jesus was. If we are more like Jesus, maybe our world today would be a better place.
For if we are more like Jesus, then we would remember and act on the greatest commandment of all which says that we should love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we should love our neighbor as ourselves.