Does anyone else need a strict routine so that the first hour of their morning will be somewhat productive? Moving into a new place changes everything…and nothing. It is kind of like my baptism. I waited until my teens, chose a day, threw a party, and was surprised that you actually got really wet in your normal clothes.
What is baptism? Who can be baptized? Is it as important as we make it in the church? These are questions brought up by the next section of the Nazarene Articles of Faith.
The first baptisms in the New Testament are found in each of the four Gospels, and were performed by John, the man who acted as Jesus’ herald, just like the prophets predicted centuries before. John was so well known for his work that he was known as John the Baptist. The accounts are found in Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, and John 1.
People came to confess their sins, repent, anticipate God’s kingdom, make a change. And baptism symbolized that. It threatened the current power structure. But John always pointed away from Himself towards the fulfillment of His message: the Messiah.
It would be someone from their midst. Unexpected. But He would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. What does that mean? He would separate the wheat from the weeds, to be saved or thrown into the fire. Fire cleanses, clears away what lasts from what does not, and is a powerful tool. You cannot rely on your heritage alone. Your own heart must be in a right place with God. Where else does fire show up in the Bible?
And Jesus came to be baptized. Why? John protested. Why did John think Jesus should baptize him? Perhaps John recognized Him as the King to come. But why did Jesus get baptized? It says He did it to fulfill all righteousness. It was the first thing He did when He left His hometown of Nazareth. The Holy Spirit descended in bodily form on Him like a dove. And God the Father spoke from Heaven: this is My beloved Son. It was the first act of Jesus’ ministry, in a public setting as people looked for the Messiah. Jesus was powerfully confirmed. And then the Holy Spirit drove Him into the wilderness to be tempted 40 days. Is that what happens when we are baptized by the Holy Spirit?
Baptism is about a curiosity of what God is doing, a desire to change, and wanting to welcome His kingdom. It takes humility. It takes surrender. And it may lead to some very uncomfortable circumstances: how will God change your life or where will He ask you to make changes?
God, baptism is a full-body experience; all or nothing. God, thank You for sending John and Jesus. It is exciting and powerful what You are doing. I am still curious…please help me to pursue You, seek Your change in my heart, and lift Your name to be glorified. And please help me in this study of baptism to better understand this special part of Christian life. And it is all about life! To You be the glory, Amen.