Wednesday, June 6, 2012

John's Baptism, and Christ's Baptism,

Luke 3:15-17 (ESV)
As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, [16] John answered them all, saying, "I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. [17] His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

I am often mystified when the Baptism of John is referenced for what baptism means. The fact that this is so common among Baptists tempts me to consider their Baptism to be not Christian. The baptism of John was not the same baptism that Jesus gave. John says as much here, it is reinforced by Acts 19. John’s baptism is something completely different. Jesus’ baptism Is completely different. Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and Fire.
This isn’t to say as it is often interpreted that Jesus baptism is something that happens apart from water. If that were so then we would be left without any reason to ever baptize with water, as John’s baptism is not something meant for Christians. Rather, baptism assumes water, unless otherwise stated, with what else would one wash? And that is what baptism means, it is used interchangeably with two other words for wash repeatedly in the New Testament, and is even the word used in Luke 11 where the Pharisee is offended that Jesus does not wash before eating. What is meant by what John says here, is that his baptism is one that is only water, but when Jesus baptizes with water, this water will be accompanied with the Holy Spirit and fire-zeal, faith and repentance. If what Christ meant by baptism were somesort of religious experience, there would be no way for anyone to know they were baptized, much less if someone else were baptized.
This is the baptism that Jesus commands Christians to be baptized with, which is why Paul immediately asks about the baptism of the disciples who have not received the Holy Spirit. Can’t wait to get to Acts 19 there is so much there to be mined, sorted out and explained. But Paul is quite surprised that those disciples had not received the Holy Spirit when they believed, and by believing he seems to mean baptized. Just a heads up for something we will get to sometime next year, should my pace remain the same.

No comments: