Seeing resurrection in baptism

We went to see some of our friends baptized today. First Katie, then Clay, then Joel (towering in the dunk tank): buried and raised in the waters. As Michael, the pastor, explained why they baptized, I realized that I had before me an ancient answer to the question from yesterday.

Baptism serves wonderfully as an resurrection-inclusive illustration of what has happened to us (and can happen to you) in the midst of this gospel story.

See how Paul unpacks it in this excerpt from Romans 6:
We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

Working backward, look at the word "united." United with him in his death and united with him in his resurrection. This concept of "union" is a key concept in Paul's theology. If we are united with him, then what happens to him happens to us. Death and new life. The whole she-bang.

Notice how Paul builds his ethics on the resurrection. Just as we are united with Christ and he was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we may live a new life. Do you think it's impossible for someone to live a new life? Do you think it's impossible for you to live a new life? Well, what's more impossible, living a new life or being raised from the dead? We are not, now, dealing with possible and impossible. What we had thought impossible happened. We are no longer authorities on the impossible.

Lastly, notice Paul's use of "buried" and "raised" in the baptism illustration. He uses a similar formula in Colossians. Watching my friends fall back under the water today, hands holding their pastor's strong arm and watching them grab that first new breath, blink their eyes, shake the water away from their faces, watching all of this I realized that Jesus did this. He submitted to baptism: the baptism of John in the Jordan and the baptism of Holy Week.

Now, I'm not trying to enter into the baptism debate (dunking, sprinkling, age, etc...). Baptism does not everywhere in Scripture have the "buried" and "raised" echoes. Peter speaks of it purifying. Ephesians unifying. In the Gospels, baptism is connected with repentance in some cases and with trial in others. It is a versatile illustration (if it is fair to call a sacrament an illustration).

And it hit me today, watching my friends be baptised, that the significance of the resurrection is easier shown than explained. How can anyone think the Resurrection of Christ is unimportant while watching Katie draw that first breath, or Clay blink his eyes, or Joel shake the water away?

Sure, that's subjective. But we believe Truth is a person (Jn. 14:6), not an object, so I don't feel a ton of pressure to pretend to be objective.

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