In the Baptism of Jesus, (Matthew 3:13-17 et al ) there are several things that happen that have a strong parallel to our lives in Christ. This text gives us an opportunity to dig deeper into what baptism is and what it is not.
In Jesus baptism, we see a fulfilment of scripture but even more so a commissioning of Jesus as a called, beloved child of God, sent into the world for the sake of the kingdom of God, to proclaim salvation, forgiveness and God’s mercy. Jesus baptism is significant because it begins his ministry. You might say that even while his hair is still wet, he is driven into the wilderness and afterwards enters into ministry. He is called beloved by the father as a promise that as he enters into this time of wilderness and beyond, he does not do so alone.
Our baptism is a mirror image of Jesus’ baptism in that we have been called to be God’s beloved children and once called then sent into the world to proclaim salvation, forgiveness and God’s mercy. Baptism is not fire insurance nor just something nice we do. It is not a rote act that the church does because it washes away our sin; But rather it is a commissioning of our lives for the purpose of bringing forth God’s kingdom. It is an appointing of the highest order so that God might be known through us. In baptism we receive our identity, named and claimed, beloved children of God, marked with the cross of Christ forever; no ONE can take away that identity. But we are given that identity for a purpose; so that we might go into the world and be disciples and make disciples. It is who we are, beloved children of the Father, sent into the world to reflect the light of Christ.
In our baptism, there are promises made, either on our behalf, or by us in baptism, confirmation or affirmation of baptism. Here are few of those promises:
to live among God’s faithful people,
to attend to the word of God and the holy supper,
to proclaim Christ through word and deed,
to care for others and the world God made,
to and work for justice and peace.
And likewise, we are given promises by God. First, we are called beloved, before we ever do anything of significance. Before we have “accepted” the faith, we are accepted by God. We belong to God and we are named and claimed by God, adopted heirs of salvation. God promises that He will always be with us till the end of time. This act of God in baptism is forever. These promises are meant to carry us through whatever wilderness we encounter, through whatever trials befall us.
May we lean on these promises of God and may we seek to carry out our baptismal promises with God’s help and guiding.