Thursday after the First Sunday after Christmas
Scripture: St. Mark 1:9-11 (NKJV)
3:9 It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Some force Jesus’ “coming up from the water” to mean that we must go down into the water and come up out of the water to have a “valid” Baptism. They point to Acts 8:38 as also teaching this, but the one doing the baptizing there also goes down into the water, which would require the pastor being immersed, too, if they were correct.
“Baptize” is used as a simple parallel to “wash” in the New Testament. In Luke 11:38 the Pharisees marveled that Jesus did not “baptize” Himself before dinner, yet even their laws that they loved in place of God’s Commandments did not require Him to bathe completely. Again, in Hebrews 9:10, it is used of various ceremonial “washings,” one of which, in verse 13, was actually done by sprinkling.
More importantly, their concern with whether or not a Baptism is “valid” is curious, since they don’t believe Baptism actually does, works, or gives anything. If Baptism is commanded by Christ and does nothing for you, what does it mean when St. Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:21 that Baptism now saves us? These people’s teaching would mean that our work of “confessing purely enough” by having a Baptism that is “made valid” not by God’s Word, but by applying water “the right way” is what saves us. That, of course, is righteousness by works, something the Holy Spirit definitely does not teach. St. Paul wrote to St. Titus, “Not by works of righteousness we have done, but by His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration”! (Titus 3:5).
Fix our hearts on Your Word, which brings salvation, and not on our own works. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.