“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…And he preached, saying, ‘After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:4, 7-8
The last sentence in these verses is a simple statement, but I’m sensing such a contrast here.
John did his designated work to prepare the way of the Lord: preaching repentance, baptizing with water those who committed to follow the Lord. And while doing so, John also emphasized the greater work, the greater One, who was coming.
The Promised One of worth, glory, and power, whose baptism was far different than John’s.
Because it wouldn’t be just water. Jesus’ baptism of us isn’t just a symbol.
The spiritual baptism Jesus gives is us being enveloped by and filled with the Holy Spirit.
So while our physical actions of baptism incorporate water, this is representative of the truer baptism we have already experienced. It indicates a God-given, God-powered change to our very core.
If all that happens is a determined choice to do better and a dipping in water to show our decision, success of that decision still rides on us. That perception of salvation focuses on our own ability to stay the course and not falter (which we inevitably will).
But if salvation instead comes from our belief in Jesus as God the Son who came, died for our sins, and rose again in victory, the success rides on Him. The One who accomplished all that was required. The One who will never fail and will never lose those who are His (John 6:37-40; John 10:28-30).
The One who baptizes us with His Spirit at the moment of our salvation, who then seals us as His forever and who begins His powerful work from the inside out to purify us and make us wholly beautiful, as He is (Ephesians 1:13-14; Jude 24).
His work, His change, His salvation, His renewal of us.
It’s all Him.
That’s what a Christ-centered baptism truly emphasizes.
Not just our choice, our belief, our surrender – though those are important declarations to make with our lives and this action of obedience.
But our God’s salvation and His power that makes us alive and brings us into newness of life, when we brought nothing to the table. Showcasing His glorious grace, unfathomable mercy, and everlasting love.
Jesus offers us something so much deeper with His baptism than us simply wanting to make better choices. He offers a salvation and steadfast hope that is secure, freeing, and life-giving to our souls.
If you know Him, focus your heart in thankfulness that you have been baptized with His Holy Spirit, to your very core, and He will faithfully and compassionately complete His work.
If you don’t know Him yet, I pray these words would stir your heart to look to the One who wants to make you whole and bring you into a life with His pure joy, peace, and light: “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:39).
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
“I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.”