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Posts Tagged ‘Baptism symbolism’

As we begin this service of baptism, let’s remember the words of our Lord, who said,

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus teaches us to baptize those who choose to follow him. And this is what we’re doing here today.

As we get started, let’s review again the symbolic meaning of water baptism. We begin with –

Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea

On the diagram below notice Egypt as the place of slavery and then Mt. Sinai – the mountain of God. And in between these two are the waters of the Red Sea.

Remember, as the Israelites tried to escape their misery and slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh’s army came to kill them. And the waters of the Red Sea blocked Israel and they were about to be destroyed. In Hebrew thought the deep waters are evil. They represent judgment and death.

God, however, acted to deliver Israel from judgment and death. He divided the sea, making a path for Israel to make it to the other side; to fully escape their old life.

There are five parts to this event.

1. Israel left Egypt behind.

2. Israel was set free from judgment and death. They went through the waters of destruction safely to the other side.

3. They had a Spirit experience. As the came up on the other shore they sang prophetic songs by the Spirit.

4. They became a new people. As they came up on the other side, they were no longer a ragtag group of slaves. They were the people of God.

5. They committed to obey God. After they came out of the waters, they traveled to Mt Sinai and committed to obey God’s Law.

Christian Water Baptism

Well there is a parallel between this Red Sea crossing and Christian water baptism.

Like we just saw, the waters here also represent judgment and death. But God has intervened for us. Through Jesus, God delivers us from judgment and death. He makes a way for us to cross over to the other side.

And there are five parts to this.

1. When we come to the waters of baptism, we portray that we have left behind our old life through repentance. Just like Israel left Egypt behind, so we leave our old, sinful life in the world behind.

2. When we go through the waters of baptism, we acknowledge that we are set free and forgiven. Just as with Israel, judgment and death can’t touch us anymore. We testify that our sins are forgiven (or washed away). That’s why we can go through the waters and not be harmed.

3. As we come up out of the water “on the other shore,” as it were, we acknowledge that we have received the Spirit. Just like when Israel came up on the other shore and they had a Spirit experience, so we testify that we have received the Spirit who gives new life.

4. When we come up out of the waters, we acknowledge that we are now a part of God’s people. Just as Israel became God’s people, we show that we have left the world behind and we are now a part of God’s people; that this is our true community.

5. When we come up out of the waters, we acknowledge that we are committed to follow Jesus. Just as Israel went on to Sinai and committed to obey God, we show our commitment to a new way of life; to doing God’s will from now on, just as Jesus has taught us.

Baptism is a symbolic testimony that this is all true in our lives. And this is the testimony of each of these who will come forward today.

William Higgins

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