Baptism: There’s more to it than meets the “I”

Posted on November 24, 2010


Before He began His ministry, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. But why, of all people, did He need to be baptized? He had nothing to repent for. Was this act just an example for us to follow, or is there more here? (Actually, that’s a trick question. There’s always ‘more here’ if you’re talking about the Bible!)

“Permit it for now, for it is fitting for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness,” was His reply to John. Christ was baptized “to fulfill all righteousness,” but what does that mean? What does it mean to be righteous? Righteousness means living, walking, and doing things according to the way that God has ordained. Righteousness does not depend on our opinion. It depends on God’s ordination. In the Old Testament, righteousness meant keeping God’s law, but in the New Testament it means something different: baptism. This is the way God has ordained today. When Jesus followed God’s ordination, the heavens were opened, the Spirit descended upon Him, and the Father spoke.

We all must be baptized. Mark 16:16 says you must believe and be baptized to be saved. Many of us have been baptized and, like Jesus, we can say “I have fulfilled all righteousness.” But is our baptism just an historical fact for us, or is it still meaningful in our daily Christian life?

We know that after we were baptized, we came out of the water with Christ in resurrection! But something was left in that water: our old person. Paul said, “I [the old I] am crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me [the new me].” That “old I” drowned in the water of baptism and the “new me” came out. If you remember this fact during your day, it will effect your behavior. That “old I” who gets mad at people and who covets is dead. How can a dead person get mad at anyone? How can they covet? He’s dead.

This has a profound impact on our daily Christian life. When we see the real meaning of our baptism, the same thing happens to us that happened to Jesus when He was baptized. We sense that the heavens open to us, the Spirit descends onto us, and the Father speaks a word: “This is my son, the beloved, in whom I have found My delight.”