Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Baptism of John and Jesus, 2

Yesterday we began a reflection on two conjoined baptisms found in Luke/Acts. They both center around the phrase "I [John] baptize you with water...He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." We concluded that John's baptism with water showed outwardly the inward change of belief and behavior affected by repentance. We also noted that Jesus participated in, practiced and proscribed this baptism with water.

...He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
Jesus would not only continue the baptism with water, he would begin a more powerful (Luke 3.16) baptism. This baptism would involve the Spirit and fire. As people believe the Good news, Jesus would pour out the Holy Spirit into their hearts (Romans 5.5,) This baptism would bring power into the lives of the believer (Acts 1.4-8.) This first happened on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2.1-3) and several subsequent times.

Power results from this immersion into the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness resulted from the immersion into water. The baptism with water symbolized the cleansing of that forgiveness. The baptism with the Spirit actualized the purification that amplifies power. This second baptism included fire. Fire can purify. The strength of any reagent grows as the diluting additives are purified out. Ivory soap cleans effectively because it is 99.44% pure soap with very little additives for color or fragrance.

"I [John] baptize you with water...He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
Peter recalls these words years later at the home of the God-fearing Roman Centurian Cornelius (Acts 11.16.) As Peter preached the Good News, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit on the man and his household (Acts 10.44-48.) Peter made the connection between this baptism with the Holy Spirit [of Jesus] and that of John with water. Even these non-Jewish people had been baptized by Jesus with the Spirit so they should be baptized with water by His disciples.

There are at least two other incidents involving the baptism of John with water and the baptism of Jesus with the Spirit (Acts 18.24-26 and Acts 19.3-4.) Together these all show early Christ followers believed that both were the normal experience of new believers. They saw the connection and necessity of both John's baptism with water and Jesus' baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Lord send your power!

No comments: