Today is Baptism of the Lord Sunday, the day when we remember Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by John. The Scripture accounts of Jesus’ baptism can be found in Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; and John 1:29-34. It is thus one of the few events in Jesus’ life that is recorded in all four gospels (even if in John it is a bit indirect).
Remembering Jesus’ baptism gives us the opportunity to remember our own baptisms, and in doing that we are able to embrace the central importance of baptism in the Christian life. Baptism is a sacrament, a true means of grace whereby we are forgiven and regenerated in the grace of God. It is also the way in which we are united with Christ and made members of his body, the church.
The Scriptural testimony to the importance of baptism is found in a number of places in the New Testament. Here are two of my favorites:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory fo the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4, RSV).
“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:11-14, RSV).
This is remarkable stuff. Baptism is connected with the saving acts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In fact, it is through baptism that we are made participants with Christ in those acts. And because we are reborn in baptism, we are given power through the Holy Spirit to walk in newness of life. Remember your baptism, and be thankful! Hallelujah!