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  • Jesus Wades In

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    If I was to ask for a story about Jesus and water, where does your mind go? Maybe to his first public miracle in turning water into wine, or perhaps to the artists favourite; walking on water to reach His disciples during a storm.

    That’s not where we’re going today. Today we’re looking at an occasion when Jesus approached water far more conventionally, and yet far more significantly, than in the other stories; the moment that walked into the water and was baptised.

    Jesus Wades In - primary image

    Where Does Baptism Come From?

    Matthew 3:4-6
    4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the Jordan River.

    After hundreds of years of no prophetic voice in Israel and Judah, John starts to draw huge crowds with his message of personal repentance and relationship with God. He gave baptism as a new sign that they were renouncing their old dependency on ethnic Jewishness and were relying wholly on the mercy of God to forgive those who confess their sins and repent. This was all done as part of his role in preparing the way for the promised Messiah.

    Still, today, baptism is a sign of a repentant individual deciding to wholly, and only, rely on God for forgiveness.

    Matthew 3:13-17
    13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?’ 15 Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then John consented.

    If Baptism Is About Personal Repentance, Why Did Jesus Get Baptised?

    Though he framed it differently, this was the same thing that John was asking as he tried to refuse to baptise Jesus. Jesus’ cryptically intriguing response can be rephrased like this, “We need to do this to complete all the Father has ordained”. For Jesus, obeying the Father was the only reason He needed in order to be baptised. But the question is still worth pursuing, why would the Father want Jesus to be baptised?

    In being baptised, Jesus validated John’s new sign and then added deeper meaning to it. As well as it being a declaration of personal dependence, it was now also a depiction; pointing towards the day when Jesus would walk into the waters of death and then victoriously emerge again on our behalf.

    The fact that Jesus was happy to wade into the water and be numbered among the repentant sinners on the banks of the Jordan, speaks volumes of His humility and love. Consider His eagerness to wash the disciples’ feet, or how comfortable He was dining with those who others considered as scum. Consider how bold it was to stand in way of those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery, or the ease with which he befriended a despised tax collector. Consider the King of the Universe taking on the form of a servant, being born as a man and humbling Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-11)

    ‘Wading in’ and identifying with people was a way of life for Jesus, and each act of humility and love was ultimately to point people to what he achieved in his death of the cross and His glorious resurrection.

    Buried With Him. Raised With Him.

    Jesus’ identification with sinners goes deeper than we could ever have dreamed. God made him who knew no sin, the one whom he loved and was well pleased with, to become sin for us; that in Jesus we might become united with God (2 Cor 5:21).

    One of many passages in the New Testament that singles out baptism as a symbol of this union with Christ is Romans 6:4-6:

    4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.

    Living Baptisms

    Matthew 3:16-17
    16 As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’

    Just as Jesus was filled with the Spirit after His water baptism, we can also know Jesus’ ‘baptism of fire’ in order to be ‘living baptisms’ (or ‘living sacrifices’ as Romans 12 puts it) humbly wading in to people’s lives to point them towards Jesus.

    Discussion Questions:

    1) Jesus was obedient to what the Father ordained. What has God asked you to do?
    2) Jesus associated with people that the rest of society shunned. How can you make sure you do the same?
    3) Have you been baptised in water?
    4)    How do you know when you’re full of the Spirit?

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