John Baptized to Prepare for Baptisms
They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me,
‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
John 1:25–27,31–33 ESV Read More
Baptism is a funny thing. It has held all kinds of priorities throughout church history to be used for division, persecution, and sometimes nothing at all. Even Jewish people before Christ had different opinions about ‘ceremonial cleansing’ as it is often translated in modern Bibles. Some washed their faces, some walked through giant pools, but the idea of washing away the past to enter into something new was not invented by John the Baptist.
In fact, baptism reflects back to Moses leading the Hebrews through the Red Sea, Noah and the flood, and the “Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters,” in the second verse in the whole Bible!
Almost as many times as it is mentioned in the Bible as something involving getting wet, it is also mentioned as a grouping or gathering with. For the Apostles, it was part of the process of believing that Jesus was the Son of God. Over and over you read in the book of Acts that people believed and were baptized.
So apart from “is baptism required?” or the questions of “should I be baptized,” grasp what John is saying here. To be baptized, washed, grouped with, and ceremonially cleansed by water means one thing, but to be baptized by the Holy Spirit is another thing altogether. Whoever this Jesus is that John is preparing us for is going to do things on a whole new level.
Required or not, sprinkled, dunked, or dry-cleaned, who would not want to be covered in God’s Holy Spirit? That is what John the Baptist is preparing for. That is what new life in Christ is fulfilled. God is coming (and has now already come) to live in His people.
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