Jesus began His ministry by being baptized by John in the River Jordan. (Read Matthew 3:13-17.) And Jesus concluded His ministry by commanding baptism.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:19-20).
Christ’s command has not changed. We are to lead people to Christ, baptize them, and teach them to observe everything Christ has commanded. Jesus has all authority, and He is the one who tells us about baptism.
How Should Baptism Be Done?
“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove” (Mark 1:9-10).
Jesus came 60 miles—one way—to be baptized in the River Jordan. And if He came up out of the water, where was He? Down in the water. Obviously, Jesus was baptized by immersion.
The word “baptism” is a transliterated Greek word. Rantizo means to sprinkle, luo means to pour, but God’s Word uses baptizo, which means to submerge, dip, immerse.
What Does Baptism Mean?
The method and the meaning of baptism are interwoven. Baptism pictures the Gospel. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
You must be saved and have received the Holy Spirit before you are baptized. (Read Acts 2:41, 10:46-47, 16:31-33.)
When you go under the water in baptism, that says you are buried with Christ in death. When you trust Christ, His death has your name on it. The old you has died. When Christ arose, you arose to new life. But baptism also pictures the fact that one of these days, you will die physically and your body will be in the earth until the trumpet sounds. Then, just like you came out of the water when you were baptized, your body will be raised out of that grave.
Why Should You Be Baptized?
There are three reasons for baptism.
- To Confess That Christ Is Your Master
We are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19b). You are a new person, with a new Master. (See Romans 6:6.) Baptism is your way of saying, “I am not ashamed of Jesus Christ.”
- To Tell Your Master’s Message to Others
Every time someone is baptized, that person is preaching the Gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many people have come under conviction of sin because they saw a baptism—they say, “I need what that pictures.”
- To Fulfill Your Master’s Command
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a).
Your response to that should be, “Yes, Lord.”
You might ask, “What difference does baptism make? It’s not necessary for salvation.” But it is necessary for obedience, and obedience is necessary for joy and fruitfulness in the Christian life. The way to understand the parts of Scripture you don’t understand is to obey the parts you do understand.