Why should I join?
What does it mean?
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
It wouldn’t be unusual to wonder about baptism, what it means. We might also wonder why Jesus was baptized.
For us, baptism is membership in the body of Jesus, the Church – we are made part of Jesus by descending into the water, as He descended into death. With this membership we are promised that we, like Jesus, will rise again.
For us, baptism is washing. We are washed of sin. In baptism we recognize that we fall short of the glory of God. As St. Paul wrote to the Romans “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” We know that we are sinful, no one is perfect and without failings. In baptism we acknowledge our sinfulness and our reliance on God, who through Jesus’ sacrifice washes us of our sinfulness, brings us forgiveness, and welcomes us back – always, no matter what.
For us, baptism is proclamation that Jesus is the Son of God, true God and true man. We proclaim the triune nature of God, Jesus’ sacrificial death, resurrection, and ascension. In baptism we proclaim the Creed – stating definitively what we believe by faith. At Jesus’ baptism the heavens were opened. The Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove. The Father’s voice is heard: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” This is God revealed, as He is, plain and simple, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Jesus’ baptism pointed to all these things. At Jesus’ baptism John publicly recognized and declared that Jesus was the One who was awaited, the Messiah, the One who would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Jesus’ baptism also showed that He identified with sinners. His baptism symbolized sinners’ baptism into His righteousness. In addition, Jesus baptism showed His approval of John’s baptism, bearing witness to it, that it was from heaven and approved by God. Later, after His resurrection, He would tell His followers that by baptizing the many they would be made His disciples. In Jesus’ baptism the reality of God was revealed in testimony direct from heaven.
All the glorious truth of the mercy of God found in Jesus Christ is on display at His baptism. We join ourselves to that glory and truth in our baptism.
In the dynamics of baptism we join ourselves to all the truth of Jesus. We proclaim that God has freed us by His grace and our acceptance of that grace. We declare with all the faith that we have – we are members of His body, and that He is our Lord and God. We are His members – and it means this: That we receive His mercy and glory.