The idea of being baptized evokes an array of images and emotions for people, stemming from a bunch of different reasons. For some, the idea of baptism is nothing more than a dip in a pool, or something parents do to toddlers; for others it is an incredibly bold action, aligning themselves with Jesus and disavowing from any other previously acknowledged deities. For some, the idea of being baptized brings a tinge of confusion, and an invitation to be baptized is met with befuddled looks, blank stares, and a shushing away of the idea altogether. It can bring fear or dread, hope of a new life and joy, or just a shrug of the shoulders and dismissal as a small matter.
With such a wide range of responses, it should be understood that baptism is not just being sprinkled or dipped, nor is it something insignificant. What’s the big deal with baptism?
We can illustrate the word baptism by understanding a bit about pickles. Yes, pickles. Yes, this is going somewhere. Don’t turn the computer off just yet!
A very, very long time ago, a Greek poet and physician named Nicander wrote a recipe for making pickles. Why does this matter? It matters because this Greek writer used both words that can be understood as baptism, and in the context we are able to see the two different meanings. Nicander said that in making pickles, one must bapto the vegetable (dip it) into boiling water, and then baptizo the vegetable (baptize it) in a vinegar solution. What’s the difference? We all know that dipping a cucumber in water doesn’t do much to change it; that action will rinse off some of the outside dirt and give you a pretty clean cucumber to munch on, but it won’t change the cucumber into a something else. Baptizing a cucumber, however, produces permanent change to the vegetable. Out of these two words, baptizo is the word we find in the Bible, and it’s the one that’s meaningful for us.
Submerging a cucumber in vinegar (baptizing a cucumber) results in a permanent change in the vegetable. It no longer looks the same, tastes the same, or smells the same as a cucumber. In fact, it’s identified by an entirely different name. It’s now a pickle! And pickles are used for entirely different meals than cucumbers.
What does this have to do with baptism and Jesus? When we decide to get baptized, we’re not just dunking under water, rinsing off a bit of dirt, and going on about our lives. Our unbelievably, extraordinarily, interwoven union with Jesus Christ is what we’re demonstrating. We are symbolizing the baptizo kind of submersion.
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
We show our belief in a change that takes place internally, and lasts eternally. We let the solution (identity in Christ) soak in and change us in the same way a vinegar solution changes a cucumber. Our name is different. Our purpose is different. Our lives are different. We are absolutely brand new in Christ. We get baptized as a public statement that we rise as He was risen, changed fundamentally, for Christ, forever.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask that you continue to work in our hearts to help us realize what it truly means to be baptized into Christ, and the newness of life you have granted us. Let us see that you have changed us fundamentally – from the inside out. We ask that this life radiates and touches those around us in a way only possible through you. Let our baptism be a symbol of your great Gift to all. We pray that the light of our identity with Jesus Christ would touch the world around us. Amen.