In the same way that God used the waters to deliver Israel from Pharaoh, Jesus’ baptism of suffering and death on the cross broke open the way for our salvation and disarmed the “principalities and powers.” He was stretched out in love, unable to save himself. While hanging on the cross people said to him, “Save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” (Matt. 27:40). Yet, he would not save himself, just like we should not save ourselves. He had to go through the waters of baptism, the waters of death. He had to go the long way if true salvation was to be birthed (Mark 10:38-39; Luke 12:50). In doing so, Jesus beat the devil at his own game. Satan drove him through the waters, but it was those very waters that destroyed the devil’s power.
Our baptism into Christ Jesus is an invitation of free grace to participate in the cross. Baptism means becoming one with the cross, and it is the cross that expands, stretches and matures us. It requires surrender and stillness to receive. It means being immersed into Christ and his work—the only source of our salvation. Our water baptism is a sign of us going through the waters of death, a sign of experiencing the same baptism that Israel and ultimately Christ went through. However, it is more than a sign. It is a prophetic model of what our whole lives are meant to be on earth. We are to live as baptized ones! Everyday we are to be immersed in Christ––in his cross and glorious resurrection. Everyday we are to live dead to sin and alive to God.
The cross, and our participation of it through baptism, is our freedom from slavery, from Pharaoh’s bondage. It is the confirmation of our adoption as sons into the Father’s family (Gal. 3:26-27). “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” (Matt. 3:16-17). Sonship is not something we earn by being good enough; it is something we receive by grace. The waters were divided by the expansion of God’s incomprehensible love. It is only as we are led through these spiritual waters by Christ that we fulfil all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). We may receive righteousness through faith in Christ, but we cannot fulfil all righteousness unless we are willing to submit to baptism in obedience. Baptism is the beginning of our acceptance of Christ’s discipleship through his people.
Prayer: Father, I pray for those who believe in you but have not been baptized, that they would have the courage to walk through the waters. And I pray for those who have been baptized, that they would know the depths of its power and walk today and everyday as baptized ones, in Jesus’ name.