The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Opinion

January 18, 2014

INSTANT MESSAGE: The baptism of Jesus

Matthew 3: 13-17 (NIV): 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. 16 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 lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

Why did Jesus need to be baptized? Was he a sinner who needed to repent? After all, that was John the Baptist's message. No, Jesus was without sin. But he showed that he was one of us by this act. God never asks us to do anything he isn't willing to do himself.

Here, Jesus set the example for us that we need to be baptized. He was also showing that he approved of John the Baptist and his message.

At Pentecost, Peter told the crowd to "repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) Jesus told us to baptize all believers in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So baptism is important.

Baptism is our entry into the church which is critical for spiritual growth. Baptism tells the world what has happened inside of us. God has cleansed us and we have been born again.

Paul says we are buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk a new life in him. So the water is symbolic of our being covered by the grace of God.

Different denominations baptize by different methods and at different times in a person's spiritual journey. To me, what is important is that you have been baptized and that you are comfortable with where you stand with God.

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Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.

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