Baptism stands at the beginning of the Christian life. Life begins with baptism. Just as baptism was the first act of the saving mission of Jesus, baptism is the first act of the Christian life. Dale Moody stressed the importance of baptism as a door to the Church. He liked to tell of the excavation of an ancient church building from the first Christian centuries. A baptismal pool was found, not at the front where we like to place our baptistery but at the door of the church as a symbol of entrance into the Christian life.
One day a very important man approached Jesus in the privacy and secrecy of the evening to pursue questions about the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached. Jesus identified the beginning of the Christian life with birth: "You must be born from above." Nicodemus was confused. He had already been born. Physically, we cannot repeat the event through which our lives began. Jesus enlarged the vision to include life in the Spirit. Jesus repeated, "No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of the water and the Spirit." Since we begin life in the amniotic fluid of the womb, we are physically born of water. Because the Christian life begins in the waters of baptism, we are also born spiritually in the water.
Baptism is a matter of choice. The most important presence in the baptistry is the faith of the new Christian. Jesus chose to be baptized of John. It is highly unlikely that the disciples would have concocted a story that they had so much trouble explaining. Jesus was not compelled by John or by any necessity to submit to baptism. He might have baptized himself, considering that no one, including John, was really worthy of such a task. For us too, baptism is a choice; a choice to obey or disobey. If you have not yet been baptized since becoming a believer, consider taking this simple step of obedience by joining us now. The biblical command is to repent and be baptized.
Baptism is a mark of identity. In baptism you are marked for life as a child of God and disciple of Christ. Baptism is an extension of birth, spiritual birth.
In baptism Jesus identified himself with the sinful humanity he came to save; Isaiah's Suffering Servant was counted with the transgressors, despised and rejected: "the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." The scandal of baptism for Jesus was also the scandal of the cross. He counted himself as one of us. He not only chose baptism, he chose each of us. As Jesus counted himself in the human family of mortals through baptism, in baptism we sinners anchor our identity in Christ.