“Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water.” (Leviticus8:6)
This “Levitical washing” or symbolic cleansing of the priests (Aaron and his sons) for religious service is he background of all religious ceremonies of cleansing in the Bible. It was practiced in the Dead Sea Scrolls community of Qumran, and it probably influenced the popular understanding of John’s baptism and Jewish proselyte baptism.
Christian baptism differed from these washings in these ways: it was performed only once,, pictured the death and resurrection of the believer with Christ, and pointed forward to the final resurrection unto eternal life. Because all Christians are priests and ministers unto God, Christian baptism became the sign of their dedication to Christ and their new life in Him.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY:
Precious Abba, baptism has always represented a special sign of commitment for those being baptized. It is a public statement of an inner belief by the one being baptized. For it is in Jesus’ holy name, that we who claim to be Christians, honor Him for all He has already done for us. Amen
THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
“Using a water pistol in a baptismal service, just loses the true spiritual aspect of the service.”
“To make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” (Ephesians 5:26)
Just as husbands took a public vow to be faithful to their wives, setting them apart from their relation to all others (“setting apart” is the root meaning of the word ‘holy’), so Christians are ‘set apart’ by Christ through the public act of baptism to be His faithful bride. The metaphor of marriage is used as a powerful illustration of the covenant relationship of God to His people from the time of the Old Testament prophets right on through the New Testament. ‘Washing with water through the word’ is clearly a reference to baptism, but it is not he literal washing with water that cleanses and sets apart the Christian. It is ‘through the word.’ the convicting, cleansing power of the Word of God (made flesh in Jesus Christ and written in the Bible), that we are saved and sanctified (made holy) as the bride of Christ.
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.’(Mark10:38-40)
To baptize (Greek – baptizo) can mean to drown or overwhelm as in a flood. It is clear that Jesus used this word as a metaphor for the suffering and death which would soon “overwhelm” Him on the cross. The “cup” is also the symbol of bitter dregs of suffering. In mentioning baptism and the cup, Jesus connected both of the later Christian ordinances with his death.
Second Thought of the Day:
“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.’” (John3:3-5)
The words ‘born of water and the Spirit’ have been a battleground of interpretation. Bible students have seen John’s baptism and Jesus; baptism and Pentecost; a demand for humble submission by a Jewish leader to water baptism before expecting to receive God’s Spirit; reception of Christ’s word or teaching as well as the Spirit; and spiritual cleansing and the Spirit’s power. The immediate context compels us to see the primary contrast between the physical birth (which Nicodemus asked about) and the new birth (or birth from above) which Jesus said is essential in order to see the kingdom of God. There is also a contrast, just two chapters earlier in this same Gospel (1:26, 33), between John’s water baptism and Jesus’ Spirit baptism.
This cannot refer to Christian baptism at this point in Jesus’ ministry because it had not been give or commanded yet. Because the Greek has no article (‘the”) with Spirit, it would be ungrammatical to separate water from Spirit. Probably both water and wind (spirit) symbolize the powerful activity of the Holy Spirit in the new birth. The main point is abundantly clear: physical birth is not enough; one must be born gain spiritually to enter the kingdom of heaven. The contrast is emphasized in verse 6.