Why Be Baptized
Why be Baptized?
In our culture, we engage in some significant ceremonies to declare that a significant change is taking place in our lives. Graduation is one of those ceremonies. It signifies that a young person is stepping out of adolescence into adulthood. A wedding ceremony is another public declaration that something in your life is changing. Baptism is also such a ceremony. In baptism we declare that a significant change is taking place in our lives. We are saying that we’re going to follow Jesus.
There are incredible benefits to following Jesus—unreserved acceptance, limitless love, God's unmerited favor (grace), forgiveness for all our sins, and purpose in life. Those are powerful benefits to following the Lord. It pays to follow Christ. But there’s more to following Christ than reaping benefits.
The "more" of following Christ has to do with humility, commitment, and identification. It takes humility to be baptized. You wade into a pool of water in front of a lot of people who are dry and comfortable. Then you permit the minister to lower you into the water. All of that takes humility.
Baptism is also an act of commitment. Through the act of baptism, you are making your commitment to Christ public. At baptism, you can point to that moment and say, "That's when I made my commitment to Christ public." When you're baptized and people see you, their expectation level of you goes way up. People will expect you to walk the talk. Baptism is an act of commitment.
So, baptism is an indication of humility and commitment. But perhaps most of all, baptism is an expression of identity. Through baptism, we identify with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
It isn’t difficult to see how our baptism reflects humility, commitment, and identification. But what about Jesus? Why was he baptized? He never sinned, so there was no need for him to make a public statement that he was repenting of his sins and seeking forgiveness. True, but when Jesus was baptized, he was also manifesting humility, commitment, and identification. Jesus had no sin, but he humbled himself by coming for baptism just as anyone outside the covenant would do. The commitment Jesus made to God required him to submit to the judgment of God and death by crucifixion. And then there is identification. In his baptism, Jesus identified with us, expressing his desire to be treated as though he were a sinner. He identified with us so that we may identify with him.
This coming Sunday, Cameron and Casey Fisher are scheduled to be baptized. Through this act of obedience, they are making a statement of humility, commitment, and identification with Christ. When someone is baptized, we encourage the congregation to express their approval for what they have done. This is biblical. Remember when Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove came upon him. And there came a voice from heaven: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Humble obedience and commitment to God and identification with God always lead to His affirmation. Always.