(The following is a re-post, with revisions, of a devotional written after our 2012 Baptism Celebration. Consider the words that follow and how they might prepare your heart for this year’s Baptism Celebration.)
Scripture Reading: Romans 8:12-17
…the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. (Romans 8:15)
When I was fifteen, I was baptized. Like all those who stepped into the waters at The Crossing on Sunday night, I had decided to go public with my decision to follow Jesus. I wanted everyone to know I was His. Unlike the celebration we experienced on Sunday night, however, there was no worship band or crowd at my baptism, no one to hug me as I came out of the water. Mostly, I remember an organ playing in the background and my white robe floating precariously to the top of the water, threatening to reveal the swimsuit I had on underneath. I went home the day of my baptism with two things. One was a white coffee mug (with the church’s logo and phone number on it). But more importantly, I left with a deep, deep sense of God’s pleasure.
The folks who were baptized Sunday night experienced God’s pleasure too. You could see it on their faces as they came up out of the water. They were drenched in it. It was beautiful. I know that look because I’ve seen it over and over again. It is the look of relief, a relief and a joy I know from my own experience. We’ve figured out that we can’t do anything to earn God’s love. Love and grace are offered to us as a gift, and His gift changes us. We are now a people of hope. Our confidence comes from knowing we are deeply, deeply flawed, and yet we are loved beyond our comprehension.
When we are baptized, we are following the example of Jesus Himself. We are identifying with Jesus and declaring that we are with Him and for Him (just as He declared He was with us and for us). But I believe that we identify with Jesus in another way as well. You see, as Jesus came up out of the water from His own baptism, His Father spoke these words over Him, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). In the book of Romans, Paul explains to us that when we trust in Jesus, we are adopted into God’s family—through His Spirit, we become sons and daughters of God (see the passage from Romans 8 above). Because of this, I truly believe that something like what was said of Jesus at His baptism was also said of me on the day of my baptism, as well as to all of the 360 people who were baptized on Sunday. By being baptized, we, along with Jesus, declare that we are part of God’s family. We are the beloved sons and daughters of God. And when we choose to take steps toward Him and His will for our lives, we can and do sense His pleasure. We can be figuratively drenched in it.
As I drove home Sunday night, I replayed the day in my mind. I saw so many “radiant” faces: faces of people who have looked to Jesus to lead their life…looked to Jesus because He is the only One who could take on their sin and shame…and it showed on their faces. Our Baptism Weekend isn’t just to celebrate the commitment of those being baptized; it’s for all of us to remember that we are the beloved of God and that we have opportunities every day to do what those who stepped into the water did: point others to a loving, majestic King who took on our sin and shame all because of His great love.
1. No matter where you are on your journey, can you articulate what you believe to be true about Jesus? How would you describe your relationship with Him to someone else?
2. If you are a follower of Christ and have been baptized, in what other ways can you point others toward our loving, majestic King? In what other ways today can you show that you’re with Him and for Him?
3. In the Great Commission of Matthew 28, Jesus instructs His disciples to make other disciples, with baptism being a part of that process. If you consider yourself a baptized disciple of Jesus, what are you doing to make more disciples?
Father, let us never get over how much it cost You to demonstrate Your love for us. Though we will undoubtedly fail and fall, remind us to constantly turn our faces toward Jesus, who endured the cross and ignored the shame of death for us. May we soak up the moments of celebration during these weeks leading up to baptism. And help us never forget this is our call every day of our lives: to follow You because You are worthy of all praise and honor and glory. Amen.