I remember looking at her approach me. Yes, it was a very simple wedding, but it was still a beautiful time, and she was more beautiful to me than any other woman on earth. I couldn't have been happier. We were going to be joined for life. This ceremony would change us; we would no longer be the same people we were before. I would belong to her, and she would belong to me.
I wonder if this isn't something of how it is with Jesus? Like our wedding, baptism is a simple yet intensely beautiful and meaningful ceremony. The Bible reminds us that we are the bride of Christ, that he cherishes and nourishes us, and that we have become his by the washing of water with the word (Eph 5:25-27). Here is a clear allusion to the ceremony where we became joined to him. Baptism is the wedding ceremony that joins us to Christ. Think of the analogy:
1. At Baptism, Jesus removes the stain of sin. When we are cleansed by the washing of water with the word, we no longer have any "spot or wrinkle or any such thing" (Eph 5:27). Jesus forgives our sin (Acts 2:38), and we have died to and are freed from sin (Rom 6:1-7). This is significant because it is sin that brings about the worst kind of death possible, the death that comes from alienation from God (Isa 59:2; Rom 5:12; James 1:15). But Jesus cleanses us!
2. At Baptism, Jesus grants us the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). The Spirit is our seal (Eph 1:13; 4:30; 2 Cor 1:22), identifying us as belonging to Christ. We receive the Spirit as like a "wedding ring" at the ceremony. But it is more than a wedding trinket. Unlike the Old Testament, the Spirit is now given without measure to those who believe (Jn 3:34; Gal 3:14). Jesus said it would bubble up within like a well or spring or "rivers of living water" (Jn 4:14; 7:37-39). The Spirit generously sanctifies (2 Thess 2:13) and renews us (Tit. 3:5) for new life full of the power of God (Eph 3:16) and Christian virtue (Gal 5:22-23).
3. When we become part of the bride of Christ In Baptism, we are also married into the family of God. We are baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13), which is the church, the family of God.
So, baptism is not some somber ritual. The sin that alienated us from God is removed so that we can be redeemed to God. Baptism is a joyous time of transformation, a change of identity where we are joined to Christ and to his people. To engage in hair splitting arguments about it and not take it as the Bible so clearly presents it robs it of the beauty, power, and meaning that God has endowed it with. In fact, it could lead to outright disobedience, refusing baptism or calling something baptism that isn't baptism.
So, whether it is the wedding analogy where we are betrothed or married to Christ, or the death and resurrection analogy where we are buried with Christ and raised up to walk in newness of life, baptism is a beautiful watershed moment where God redeems you to himself.