Once upon a time, there was a couple who met & fell in love. They didn’t know any better, so they decided to shack up to see if their relationship would work out – no big commitments. That’s what everybody does, right? Joe & Mary fell more & more in love through the years. In fact, they stayed together so long, technically the state saw them as legally married. But they never had that beautiful ceremony. They never stood before their family & friends to declare their longterm commitment to each other – signed, sealed, forever.
Joe & Mary had two wonderful children. When the older one came of marrying age, he decided to shack up & “test things out” before making that 100% commitment. His parents were so grieved. “Why would our child not get married? Doesn’t he see how great it is to be married? Joe & I love each other so much; we just want Johnny to enjoy that same level of commitment with his spouse & experience the joy of marriage! He’s going to mess up his life if he goes this direction! What can we do to help him?”, asked Mary. What would YOU suggest Mary do to help her son?
“To me, one obvious thing would be for you to have that beautiful ceremony, declaring before yourselves, the Lord, & your children that you & Joe have made a lifelong commitment to each other.” replied Mary’s friend. “That would definitely make an impression on Johnny, don’t you think?” Mary went home & pondered over these things. Then she & Joe planned a wedding!
Johnny watched as his Mom & Dad repeated vows to each other. He had always known his parents were committed to each other, but this act of finally going through with making it public & “official”, together ’til death do us part, went a long way in causing him to think about his plan to shack up with his girlfriend. What do you think Johnny did?
And here is the meaning to this parable: Baptism is just like marriage – it is an outward sign of the inner commitment that’s already taken place. It declares to everyone around what you have committed to the Lord in your heart. You can be legally married without the ceremony. By law, you’re married. But it doesn’t feel the same, does it? For Joe & Mary to have a wedding after all those years doesn’t mean they didn’t love each other before, but it is a testimony to all around, including their children, that marriage is a great thing & the right way to be with each other (verses living together – or halfhearted commitment to God).
Baptism doesn’t save you any more than that wedding ceremony makes a person married. But when you are totally in love with someone & have made that lifelong commitment, what is it that would hold you back from declaring that love publicly in a God-ordained way?
“Jesus came & told his disciples, ‘I have been given complete authority in heaven & earth. Therefore, go & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father & and the Son & the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey…'” (Matthew 28:18)
Peter replied, “Each of you must turn from your sins & turn to God, & be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
“Have you forgotten that when we became Christians & were baptized to become one with Jesus Christ, we died with Him? For we died & were buried with Christ by baptism.” (Romans 6:3,4)
“And this is a picture of baptism, which now saves you by the power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Baptism is not a removal of dirt from your body; it is an appeal to God from a clean conscience.” (1 Peter 3:21)
“But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News… As a result, many men & women were baptized. When the apostles back in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter & John there. As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new Christians to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter laid hands upon these believers, & they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:12, 14-17)
My dear grandma being baptized this past summer.