The Waters That Save
Francesco Albani’s 17th century Baptism of Christ
Depiction with the sky opening and the Holy Spirit descending as a dove.
Perhaps because I live in a seashore resort community now, and spent most summers of my childhood in, as well, you can understand why I am drawn to the waters that spawned all that God, by His mighty hand, spun into the world as we know it. After all, it was the waters that existed with the heavens and the earth, that was shared in the 2nd verse of His word that we hold as being sacred. (Genesis 1:1-2, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”) And it was to the waters that Christ was drawn, to make Himself and His purpose for the world, known to man.
“The Church does not dispense the sacrament of baptism in order to acquire for herself an increase in membership but in order to consecrate a human being to God and to communicate to that person the divine gift of birth from God.”
Hans Urs von Balthasar
Unless You Become Like This Child
The waters of our world. What a blessing and a miracle they are for mankind. It is their properties that both bear and sustain the miracle of life, and it is also their properties that gift to us a life with the promise of salvation!
Did you know that there were three GREAT miracles in the Old Testament of water baptism of sorts, involving the seas of the earth? I’m referring to the miracle and salvation of Noah and his family during the great flood, the parting of the Red Sea by the hand of God to allow the Hebrew slaves safe escape from the pursuing Egyptian army, and the crossing of the river Jordan to enter the promised land where the Hebrew people would once again, be declared by God to be His! Yes, purification by water was God’s blessing and His gift of grace to we, His children. However, it was not until the miracles that happened as a result of the life of Jesus, that the gift would be given to all of those who proclaim a love for and belief in God’s only begotten son!
It is through the miracle of Baptism that our sins die, are buried and we are resurrected just as He was, all because of Christ’s life-giving blood, which ran clear from the wound he suffered in his side from the Roman spear, as told in John 19: 34-35 NIV, “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.” Just as the one born without sin chose to be baptized in the waters of life, so did his blood run as water, proof of the melding of the two most significant events in Jesus’ life. And it is both of these occurrences which are necessary so that we may also be reborn, washed clean of the sin that is the dubious birthright of every human since the fruit of the tree of knowledge was consumed in the garden! However it is not the act that merits salvation because that is God’s gift of grace to us. It is, instead, an outward symbol of the love and faith that dwells in the heart of the believer and acts to tether the heart of man with the trinity…the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. “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., according to Romans 6:4 NIV.
“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him saying,”I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to Me?” But Jesus answering said to him,”Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.
Mathew 3:13 -17 NASB
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