Milestones are a significant event or stage in the life, progress, or development of a person or culture. Whether it’s a child’s first steps, moving from diapers to big kid underwear or the first day of school, we celebrate milestones for our children. Getting a driver’s license, the wedding day and purchasing your first house are also important milestones.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11
The word “baptize” literally means to immerse, we might say “dunk” today. If you “dunk” something under water, you’re immersing it in water. So baptism is the process of putting a person all the way under the water and then bringing them back up. Every time you go to the swimming pool you get immersed, so why is water baptism significant for Christians?
First, because John, who went before Jesus and was the opening act for Jesus for six months, would baptize people in the Jordan River in Israel as a public declaration that they were turning from their old ways and coming back to God. Secondly, baptism is significant because Jesus himself was baptized and his baptism marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Baptism marks a beginning. Third, baptism is significant because Jesus himself, at the end of his time here on earth, told us to baptize new believers as a way to celebrate the milestone of their new faith in Jesus.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:18-19Baptism was a milestone Jesus gave his followers to signify to others that they were now Christians. Here are three things the milestone of baptism signifies to the world:
1. Baptism shows everyone on the outside the decision you’ve made on the inside. When you give your life to Jesus, you’re transformed on the inside, but on the outside you look the exact same. You don’t grow a third arm or sprout a unicorn horn. You look the same on the outside, and baptism is an outward sign of your inner decision, much like a wedding ring is a tangible, outward sign of an inner commitment you’ve made.
2. Baptism is a public declaration that your allegiance is now with Jesus. Over the past several years social media has changed how we declare our allegiances. For instance, if you’re dating someone it’s one thing to go out on a few dates, but it’s quite another thing to make your relationship “Facebook official” with a status update and declare to the world that you’re off the market. In the same way, baptism is going “Facebook official” and letting the world know that you’re changing your status (and your allegiance) to Jesus.
3. Baptism is a celebration that you have been forgiven and made new.
Growing up, I had braces on for five long years (don’t worry, my therapist helped me through it). When I got those braces off, I went everywhere I could and smiled as much as I could to let the world know that I was a new man. In the same way, baptism is a pure celebration to let everyone know that you’ve been forgiven and made new in Jesus!