Humans tend to identify themselves with others. People have a need to say I am with her, or I am with him. I agree with that person. I belong to this group or that group. Yes, there are those who say "I am my own man" or "I don't follow anyone," but I think this is usually not very accurate and only a facade. People need to identify with others and have others identify with themselves, whether they admit it or not.
Christianity is all about identification. Calling oneself a Christian is saying to all that you have identified yourself with Christ Jesus, the very Son of God. I follow Christ. I worship Christ.
Baptism is as an outward sign to our friends, our family, the world, that we believe Jesus is the Son of the living God, the Messiah, and we desire to identify ourselves as a follower of Jesus. I have associated, affiliated, identified my life, my will, my thoughts, and my actions with Jesus.
Before we are baptized, before we publicly identify ourselves with Jesus a rethinking has taken place in our life. A change in how we view God, ourselves, and others. A change that causes us to turn from our sin and towards God. A turn that confesses the truth of our failures, our rebellion before God the Creator. A turn that acknowledges God's loving plan to restore our relationship with him through his son Jesus.
Many of you know that I am currently blogging through a book titled The Essential Jesus: 100 Readings Through the Bible's Greatest Story written by Whitney T. Kuniholm. I am on passage reading number 36 of the 100 passages.
Hear are some highlights from this passage:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matthew 3:1)In this account written by Matthew we see many responding to a message of repentance by coming down to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. They come, confess their sins, and then are baptized in the river.
Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. (v. 6)
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.
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 3:13-17)
Now we know from scripture that Jesus was without sin. (1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5, John 8:46) So why did Jesus insist he must be baptized by John? We even see John resist Jesus' request at first.
Since Jesus was without sin there was absolutely no reason Jesus needed to rethink anything about his life, Jesus did not need to repent. He did not need to change or turn away from anything in his life. There was no rebellion in the heart of Jesus. Jesus was one with God the Father on everything.
So why was Jesus baptized?
I think there are several reasons why, but today I would like to focus on just one: Identification. Jesus came to earth, in part, to identify with us humans. He came down from heaven to walk on this earth in a body like ours. God came down to earth to live like us and with us. (John 1:14) Jesus willing submitted himself to a ceremony that was designed to signify a change in one's life a change he did not need but one that is critical for us.
In baptism Jesus identified with us. At the cross Jesus also identified with us. Accepting a penalty or a punishment for another person is the ultimate form of identification. Substitution takes identification to the highest level. Most of us only desire to identify ourselves with people for good and positive things. But at the cross Jesus identified himself with our failure.
...he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)Jesus was "numbered" with us. Jesus bore our sin. He took the weight of our failure and rebellion on himself. He identified our sin with himself. He took our punishment.
Because Jesus identified himself with me and my failures. Because he paid the price for my wrongs I can be called a co-heir, a heir, a child, a son of God. God identifies with me.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:14-17)I am a Christian. Christ identified his life with mine. I have identify my life with Christ and God calls me his child. Incredible!
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