Baptism: Water and the Spirit
Baptism was not unique to John the Baptist or to Jesus. Ritual cleansing was part of other beliefs in ancient Mesopotamia. John’s following were engaging in a familiar custom — just by different and rather unusual leader.
Then came Jesus. When John baptized Jesus, God added something new to an old custom. He sent his Spirit. Adding Spirit made an old custom new to the point that today baptism is associated with Christians.
Christians are baptized with both the water and the spirit.
Here’s one idea for how you might illustrate this to your congregation.
You might set a kettle to boil while you talk to your congregation this week. You could do this with a whistling kettle right in front of people or you could have a hot plate off to the side with a the kettle rigged to go off just about the time you are making a point about water.
Water is so common. There is no life without it. We drink it, wash with it, cook with, and even have fun with it.
Water at rest is still and peaceful.
Water at rest can also become stagnant and foul.
Water in motion cleanses itself. Its power can grind grain and feed a village. It can turn turbines and generate still more power. It can destroy what man cleverly builds and admires.
Water combined with spirit is unstoppable. And that’s what makes baptism in Christ so different.
Water and the Spirit grab our attention. (And that’s about when the whistle should go off!)