Baptised into union with Christ
I want to talk a little about baptism tonight. In my years as a minister, I’ve heard a lot of quite wrong ideas about baptism.
Like these: ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re baptised or not.’ Wrong! ‘Baptism is about works, not faith.’ Wrong! ‘You can get baptised as many times as you feel you need to.’ Wrong!
Let’s look at baptism. Our Gospel reading tonight says that John the Baptist
went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…
John proclaimed a baptism of repentance. In other words, people came to him to turn away from their sins and towards God, and be washed clean.
They came to John because they believed that if the whole people of God repented, then God would bring the kingdom down to earth and there would be justice and peace for all.
Notice this: it wasn’t about getting to heaven when you die; it was about God’s perfect will being done here and now, like the Lord’s Prayer says:
…your will be done on earth as in heaven.
People flocked to John, repenting of their sin, turning away from sin, and turning towards righteousness. And then waiting for the Messiah to come.
This morning, we baptised three very young children. How can we do that, if John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance? These three tiny things are hardly notorious sinners. They aren’t old enough to have anything to repent of. How can we baptise them? It’s simple, really: John’s baptism and Christian baptism are not the same thing. When the Lord Jesus Christ was baptised by John, he transformed John’s baptism and gave it a new meaning.