In Luke’s reading we see that the people were filled with expectation as they waited for the outcome of the baptism.
This reminds me of a story about a drunk who stumbled onto a baptismal party all standing up to their waists in the river. As drunks do he staggered into the water with them to see what was going on, lumbered up to the priest who grabbed him by the neck, thrust him under the water, pulled him out and demanded “ Have you found Jesus”. The drunk responded “No” whereupon the priest repeated the process and got the same answer.
For a third time the priest held him under the water, this time for a good 30 seconds, pulled him out and demanded “Have you found Jesus” whereupon the drunk shouted “NO, ARE YOU SURE THIS IS WHERE HE FELL IN?”
Amusing maybe but it illustrates a misconception. Baptism is not a way of finding Jesus, but what is it for? Lets look at the reading.
“when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”’
We can see that Baptism is a Public Declaration:
Baptism declares that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. It is a public confession of your faith in, and commitment to, Jesus Christ. Those of you who remember Bishop Trevor conducting a baptism here will remember how he used to walk amongst the congregation and sprinkle us all with water from a sprig of Rosemary.
He used to say that when we attended a christening it was a chance for us all to recommit to our baptism in our hearts.
So what is the meaning and significance of baptism?
Many say it is a symbol of our new life as a Christian.
But just as putting on a wedding ring does not make you married so being baptised does not make you a true believer in Christ. Yes baptism is a symbol but it is a symbol of what is already in your heart.
So baptism is a statement you have trusted Christ for your salvation and are committed to living for Him.
Baptism does not make you a believer; it shows that you already are one! Baptism does not ‘save’ you; only your faith in Christ does that.
But baptism also connects us to the ‘body of Christ’, his people in the earth. In baptism there is a real sense of being joined with other believers, not just participating in an individual act of our own spiritual journey.
“…For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body…” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
But at its heart baptism is a personal relationship between you and Jesus
So what is it the crowd are expecting. What is it we are expecting. It is the fire of the Holy spirit that burns itself into our hearts and lights our lives.
O yes we may say all the right things we sing all the right songs We even attend all the right churches and church services but has the fire had any effect on us You see the point of the fire that God wants to give us isn’t just to warm us up but it is so that we too can be a light and can share the light and the passion and pass on the same fire to others We are given the spirit yes because we belong to Christ But yes so that others may come to know and love him too. Gods burning away the old and lighting the new
He’s setting you afire so that you might be a light to others, that’s what he wants for each of us.
But don’t think it’s you that’s going to be doing it. When Jesus was baptised and his father spoke from heaven and said ‘you are my beloved son in you I am well pleased’ What had Jesus done up to this point?
He’d got lost when he was 12 that’s all we know about. He hadn’t earned his fathers love It wasn’t about what he could. It was about the father choosing to love him. And so it is with each and every one of us if we try and do things in our own strength we will fail But if we allow God’s love to fill us and transform us and change us. Then we will be that light that shines for others to see. May all of us know that, not just in our minds but in our hearts and our lives as well.
15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. 19 But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added to them all by shutting up John in prison.
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”