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The Meaning of Baptism
The first baptismThe first thing to get baptized was earth itself. We read about the first day of creation:
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)
On the third day, the earth is raised above the waters and emerges from the baptism. It was a new creation, birthed through water. This immediately explains to us the nature and purpose of the baptism: it is a new beginning, a new birth, a new creation (John 3:3-5). The third day hints towards the resurrection (Luke 9:22). Naturally, this also becomes the first step you take into your new faith in the Messiah.
A proclamationThe baptism is an official proclamation of faith. By immersing yourself publicly, you declare your faith to all of creation, the heavens and the earth. It was when Yeshua was baptized that the Father acknowledged Him in public (Matthew 3:16-17), in the same way God will acknowledge you when you get baptized (Matthew 10:32).
A resurrectionThe water is not only a place of life and new birth, it is also a place of death and a grave for your old life. In the baptism you leave all sins behind in the depths of the water, and when you come up above the surface again, it is as if you have been resurrected from the dead (Romans 6:1-4).
What am I leaving behind?Everything that embarrassed you before God is now washed off and will never be remembered by Him again. Neither will it be brought up among your fellow believers. No one is expecting you to carry on with your old life. Bad habits and sins will not be mentioned, not by God and not by the believers (Ephesians 4:17-24).
What am I entering?To follow the Messiah is like walking on a path, a path that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). As you walk you will learn more and more about the Messiah and the destination. You will be given many opportunities to do good and resist evil. Should you fall, we will lift you up, should you get tired, we will support you; it is not a lonely walk, we reach the goal together (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
To walk as a believer does not mean that you get to the goal and the promise immediately. It is a life-long process, which requires faith and endurance (Matthew 24:13). The best qualities do not come from your personal excellence and intellect, they come from your dependence on God and your humility (Proverbs 3:5-6). A humble person will go through life with thankfulness and enter the Kingdom of God with ease – the destination of our faith (Matthew 5:3-10, Revelation 21:1-5).
Part of the body of ChristWhen Yeshua left the earth and took His seat in heaven, He left His great and important mission to us. We, His followers, are now supposed to continue doing His works, teach His teachings, reach the lost and show God’s love to the world. It is impossible for us to even remotely imitate the Messiah in our own strength, so it is done in the power of His Spirit, which He gives to us (Matthew 28:16-20). When we do His works in the power of His Spirit, we are so closely associated with Him that we act, pray and speak in His name (John 14:12-14). When we continue His work on earth, we are even referred to as the "body of Messiah". Through the baptism you are becoming a part of this body (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).
Didn't you find this exciting!? It is amazing how God lets us become a part of what He is doing here on earth. Now, let's make a quick review before we move on to interesting parallels in next lesson.