The Jordan River is inconspicuous at first glance.
Especially when you arrive to find your imagination of a Middle-Eastern oasis overshadowed by a modern tourist trap. Yet, like in the brokenness of our own lives God still did something incredible in this place. Its the place where the Israelites crossed into the promised land, and Jesus' was baptized. It is worth celebrating and rejoicing in, regardless of what residue tried to cloud its beauty then and now. Our lives are this way. During Jesus' baptism, the Jordan was the very place where the heavens themselves opened up with the father's booming voice declaring who He is and who we are in Him:
"You are my son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased"
Jesus got baptized as an outward declaration of a deeply inward reality. This puzzled his cousin John, who was the one Jesus asked to baptize him. John made his reverent reservations known to Jesus. He said:
"Jesus, you are "the one whose straps of sandals I am not worthy to untie." (John 1:27)...I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14)
I feel ya, John. I would have been confused too! Yet Jesus replied, insisting that John baptize him: “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness".
Jesus answers the very question I think we all are invited to answer: Is God calling me to be baptized?
John the Baptist came to the Jordan river to preach our need for repentance. A change of direction. A turn away from ourselves, and towards Jesus. Christ came demonstrating what the fruit of repentance looks like. You see, baptism is a picture, or an identification of what has already been brought to pass. Much the same as it was in Jesus' relationship with the father, we encourage folks to get baptized as a public proclamation of their identity being found in Jesus. Jesus understood more clearly than any human in history that "the Son can do nothing by himself" (John 5:19). His security was in God. He goes on to say "he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does".
This is oneness in the flesh. Jesus "fulfilled all righteousness" through his eternity saving life, death, burial, and resurrection. The gospel that gives us this very same oneness.
Thus, the only rightful response is to share and celebrate what great news we have, in any way we can. In leaving and cleaving to Jesus, we have not forfeited our soul, but have instead gained the whole world in being reconciled with God. Like Jesus, we have an opportunity through baptism, to let God speak over us to our community. To testify that Jesus has changed our lives. That He has made us new!
Baptism is a Celebration
Baptism is another way to throw a wedding ceremony. A consummation. A celebration of being Christ's bride. It is an opportunity to gloat on the bridegroom and His impact on transforming us from the inside out.
That is what baptism is about. That because we have received Christ's righteousness; we declare that we have been washed of our old sin life, and have put on the new life and Jesus' clothes of righteousness.
Across Christianity, baptism is a big moment for believers. When someone came to faith in the early church, they often then got baptized. In this poor community made up mostly of "unschooled ordinary people" (Acts 4:13), this people were quickly washed of the old and put on their new identity in Christ. In the Eastern Orthodox church, they often make special occasion for ceremonial baptism and the putting on of a white robe for 8 days to signify the covering God provides us. The practice of baptism is a stamp of the work Jesus has done. That "It is finished". That we have become co-heirs with Christ. That someone is in Jesus, and because He bore the cross with His body; we now had new life in the body as resurrected and saved people.
We continue that party.
In our community, we believe that baptism is an individual's choice to outwardly express that they have died to sin by believing in Jesus. That they are brought back to life by resurrection in the Spirit. That they want the community to uphold them in this new existence. To "spur them on to love and good deeds". To remind them that Jesus looks down from heaven as we submerge under the water, and is the loudest clapper in the room as we come out of it while hearing the father speak the same thing He did to Jesus, into our soul:
"You are my daughter or son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased"
You and I are invited to this picture of our embodiment. To participate as those getting baptized or supporting this holy moment, that signifies a re-birth. That our friends are alive in Jesus and we are here to help them to continue to "put on the clothes of Christ". To remind them in love that as they descended into the water, they signified that they are the very thing that Jesus made them to be and experience. To sing out to Jesus together: Signed, sealed, delivered...I'm yours!
Baptism then, is a picture of the thing that most makes you, you. That most makes us, us. It unveils each person to their community as a person who wants to be about what they are most about. Him.
As Galatians 2 says, in Jesus: we "have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me". That you are alive for eternity, and need to cease this catalytic moment to "shout it from the rooftop" as your new being has arrived: "The old has gone, the new has come".
And the part that makes all this even better, is that we are looking on as your audience and cheering what has been accomplished. As a community of faith, we are invited into this death, burial, and resurrection service with you. We get to help you continue to walk in the gift of faith that you have been given. We get to love, encourage, and exhort you to be who you already are!
That is what baptism is about. It is an emancipation proclamation. That you have been set free. That you have been given the Holy Spirit to guide, counsel, and to lead you into all wisdom and truth. That, you are who the Fathers says you are.
In Jesus, the angels rejoice that you are one sinner who has come home, and you are now a saint.
His Son or Daughter. Whom He loves. With you, He is well pleased.
In Jesus, as Ephesians says, there is only "one baptism" in His church and you are invited to share in your part of it with all who have been baptized or looked on in awe before. Blessedly even, We get to rejoice in being a part of it, with you.
Get Baptized at our Easter Celebration on April 16th at 1115AM @ 766 John St!
On Easter Sunday, we are going to celebrate by having a time of folks getting baptized. We hope you will sign up to experience this public moment where your faith is shared as a priceless stamp of Jesus' love and grace. That you have been made "dead to sin, and alive to Christ".
Would you prayerfully consider the opportunity to get baptized?
If you haven't been yet, or you desire to have this significant moment, I'd encourage you to ask Jesus if now is the time and place. To search you heart on this is to simply ask Jesus: "Do I believe you are my Lord, and if so, do I want that to be my and my community's chief understanding of who I am"? Am I His, and is Jesus mine? Have I been re-generated by the power of His transformative, unrelenting, never-ending love? Are you seeking to follow Jesus?
- Tyler Gorsline, Pastor of Discipleship
Please let us know that you would like to take the step of getting baptized or if you have questions (Email Tyler @ firstname.lastname@example.org). We'd love to celebrate with you!