Today, many Christian denominations celebrate the baptism of Jesus. It is interesting to read the four Gospels and note the differences. Who sees the heavens torn open? Who hears the voice of God? Does John appear to recognize Jesus? None of these questions or the answers thereto have much bearing, but it does make for interesting reading.
One of the important factors about Jesus’ baptism is him being submerged and coming up out of the water. Many commentators believe that he allowed himself to be baptized in order to sanctify the water for future baptisms. One might even say that he sanctified the new earth. Another reason is that Jesus is the way, and he shows us our proper response to his calling; a proper practice for all disciples.
Another interesting fact is that in the last couple of centuries, there has been a lot of comparison of modern beliefs to those of the early church. One of the points of note was that over time the focus of baptism moved away from the idea of dying and rising with Christ and became about induction into the church. I don’t know about other denominations, but the Catholic Church has recognize both points as important, and has expended energy re-focusing baptism so that both aspects are highlighted.
Why is it important to view baptism as an act of dying and rising with Christ? I think Paul says it best when he says I live no longer I, but Christ in me. Gal 2:20. There is a brand new focus on the direction of our life when we see ourselves as having died with Christ. We live no longer for self. We live in connection with the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is important too because John testified that Jesus would baptize not with water, but with the Holy Spirit. Thus, the tie between life in the spirit and baptism is strong.
Spend some time with the Holy Spirit pondering your own baptism. Does it reflect for you the idea of dying and rising with Christ? How does this impact your walk with Christ? What is the role of the spirit in your spiritual life? How does your life emulate the life of Christ? Jot down some notes about where you are doing well in this regards as well as some ideas for improvement.