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May 5 I Wednesday

1 Kings 19-20

Luke 23:1-25

 

“When all the people were being baptised, Jesus was baptised too.”  —Luke 3:21

 

Did we notice the matter-of-fact way Luke recorded Jesus’s baptism in the opening verse of this devotion? We could imagine a line of people going to John the Baptist, and as he worked through the line, he suddenly recognized Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that John tried to resist baptizing Jesus by saying, “I need to be baptised by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus responded, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:14-15).

       John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. While there was no need of repentance or forgiveness of sins for Jesus, it was necessary for Jesus to be baptized because what He was doing was identifying with people in their need for repentance and cleansing. The prophet Isaiah tells us, “…[He] was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12); this was not only a reference to Jesus on the cross and being numbered among the transgressors, but it also applied to His whole life. Jesus became like one of us, and He identified with our need for cleansing. 

       In Mark 16:16, Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” This sounds like baptism is necessary for salvation, but in actuality, baptism is just a symbol, an outward sign. Liken it to a wedding ring—a bride and groom exchange rings as a symbol of their marriage, but if they take it off for a moment, they do not cease to be married. In the same way, the act of baptism in itself does not do anything. There is no such thing as holy water that makes us a bit different at the end of it. All baptism does, in reality, is make us wet! 

       A way baptism is a symbol is as a bath. When people went to John in the Jordan River to be baptized, they were not getting physically cleaned, but recognizing the need to be cleansed of their sin. Every one of us is in need of cleansing, because by nature, we are all guilty before God.

       We can do one of two things with our sin: we can suppress it or we can confess it. If we choose to suppress it, pretend it did not happen and harden our conscience against it, we are only fooling ourselves. If we confess our sin, we can be clean; no matter what our past was, it does not shock God. Water baptism for Christians is a statement that says, “I am dirty, but I’ve been cleaned, cleansed and washed by the blood of Jesus!”

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for identifying with our need for cleansing. I choose to confess my sin and be clean, cleansed and washed.


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