Today is a special day in the church calendar. Today, we celebrate our Lord Jesus' baptism. When I envision this event, I picture John the Baptist baptizing Jesus - almost in a state of awe. What a wonderful privilege he had to baptize our Savior. It is truly an image of pure love and beauty.
I don't know about you, but whenever there is a baptism during a Sunday service, I get all excited. Yes, it is wonderful to see a family stand at the baptismal font with their family, little one in their arms, receiving our Lord Jesus' blessing both upon their forehead and upon their heart. It does give me chills. What truly brings tears to my eyes is what the baptism represents. To know that another soul, whether a child, adolescent, or adult, is receiving the grace of God is a precious moment. Through the water there is forgiveness of sins, salvation in Jesus, and life everlasting. Thus, the journey begins.
I always loved the story my mom used to tell when I was baptized. You see, I was baptized twice! When I was born, I was very sick. My grandfather, a Lutheran minister, baptized me right in the hospital with a paper cup. When my health improved and I was able to leave the hospital, I received a baptism in our church. I always felt "doubly blessed" because of my circumstances. To me, it is truly the fact that a person is baptized that makes the difference. Whatever the circumstances by which one receives baptism, it is the joy of God's everlasting grace and enjoying the relationship with Him for our forgiveness of sins that is so important.
If we receive all of this with the sacrament of baptism, then why would Jesus - who had no sin - need to be baptized? There is much said on this, and I truly encourage you to dig deep to learn more. I look to Jesus as to how to live my life. I will never be able to be the type of person Jesus wants me to be. I will always try, but I fail, miserably, each day. That is why baptism is so very important. At a very young age, it is the sacrament that forgives my sins, even when I don't ask. Jesus is our role model - He showed us through His life on Earth, what we need to do. He received baptism from John to fulfill prophecy, and to show us that we as well, need to be baptized. Jesus, the giver of grace and righteousness, certainly didn't need to be baptized to cleanse his sinless soul. Yet, as always, he showed us what we need to do. As the scripture shares, His father was pleased with him, as He is with us, when we bring others to baptism.
Baptism provides cleansing - they are truly the cleansing waters that takes our sins away. To know I have been cleansed early in my life is powerful. Regardless of when we have been baptized, we are cleansed in Jesus. The one who died for our sins, gives us living water. Through baptism, we are His. Regardless of how far we may venture away from Jesus, baptism gives us the path back to him. Our lives have all taken us on different journeys. There have been times in my life when my walk with Jesus has had him right by my side - at other times I have been distant from him. Grace comes in knowing that he never leaves me. Through the cleansing waters, we are always together. This has brought such comfort to me throughout my life - knowing that he has been with me when I was small and will never leave me, never forsake me.
As each of my children were baptized, that day became significant. I felt, on that special day, that I had help - that God was with them at that point - and that He would never leave them. Regardless of what happened during their earthly life, I knew that God was watching over them and would protect them. I can't tell you how much that has comforted me in many difficult situations with our children. As they grow up and move on, this probably becomes even more important, as I am not able to be with them for all their choices, all their decisions. Yet, God is, cleansing them and loving them.
If you have been baptized, think of what your own baptism means to you - what has it meant to you through the years. Take some time to relish in God's cleansing waters - they are with you every day! I know I need them every day. If you have children who have been baptized, remember that special day, and give God glory for being with them on their earthly journey. Know that when life is tough, the cleansing waters are with them every day. If you know people who are not baptized, maybe God is tugging on your heart to speak God's word to them, and encourage them to experience the cleansing waters of God's love. Help them to know what it feels like to have such cleansing. Last, but not least, reflect on our Bible verses for today - thinking of Jesus' baptism with John. Jesus had no need to be cleansed, but His father poured the Holy Spirit upon him, as he does on each who is baptized, to show His incredible love.
May you celebrate in the cleansing waters of Baptism!!
"As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:16-17 (NIV)