Read: Genesis 45:16-47:27
Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
React: The Pharisees ask why John is baptizing and in the gospel of John gives a shortened version. In John’s response to this question in the synoptics you also hear him saying about baptism, “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Baptism is an outward demonstration of an inward transformation. When a person goes down under the water it is symbolic of burial, their old self is dead. They are dead to their sin and their former way of speaking, thinking, and acting. When they come back out of the water it symbolizes new life. Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
Baptism is an act of obedience. It is an act of surrender. Most of all it is a public demonstration that we are united with Christ in His death and resurrection. All of us, once we have made a commitment to die to our sins and live for Christ must be baptized. Getting a few sprinkles before we were even old enough to remember doesn’t count. It is a choice we must make for ourselves when we are mature enough to understand what that choice entails.