Baptism Before Supper

Title: Baptism Before Supper

Bible Book: Matthew 3 : 13-17

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Baptism; Baptism of Jesus



Today’s message is a bit different, for we are going to look at one thing in the message and participate together in another before the service ends. I feel this is important because many people fail to understand the meaning and significance of these two activities in the church. First, let’s look at our scripture found in John 3:13-17:

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ 15But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He[c] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”

Today we shall take part in the Lord's Supper after this message, but I want us to think about the Baptism of Jesus before we do so. That may seem a bit odd, but I think you will understand the significance of our thoughts before our service ends today.

You see, there are only two rites or ceremonial activities that we participate in as Baptist people. We call these ordinances, since we see them as ordained or ordered by the Lord to be done by His people. It may seem unusual to link Baptism and the Lord’s Supper together, but in reality we have only these two ordinances given to us by our Lord and, in fact, they do fit together as intertwined activities for the people of God. So, let’s think on the Baptism of Jesus and bring into focus the Lord's Supper that we will take part in today. In essence, we will think of baptism before supper!

Our text today tells us that Jesus came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. For thirty years Jesus had been preparing for the ministry for which He had come into the world. Part of the preparation was in the work of a man named John the Baptist. John was preaching repentance from sin and great crowds were coming to hear him preach. People could feel that something was about to happen and John explained to them that the great event they were anticipating was the arrival and presentation of the long-awaited Messiah. In essence, it was the distinct ministry of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Christ and in doing so he was fulfilling prophetic scripture.

Jesus came to the Jordan where John was baptizing people who were repenting of their sins, and when John saw Jesus he proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Then Jesus did something unexpected, He walked down into the water and asked John to baptize Him.

When Jesus asked John to baptize Him, it went against everything John the Baptist knew about Jesus. Only those repenting of sin had need of baptism, so why was Jesus being baptized? John discouraged Jesus by saying, “I am not worthy to latch your shoes and I need to be baptized by you,” but Jesus insisted of being baptized by John. Jesus said that He was to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness. In other words, Jesus was setting forth an ordinance for all His followers. Though Jesus knew no sin, yet He was willing to provide for us the example of this important step of faith and testimony. John the Baptist immersed our Lord in water and lifted Him ought of the water in what can be called the inauguration of baptism for the New Testament Church.

After Jesus came up out of the water, the Spirit of God descended upon Him as a dove. Then the Father spoke and said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

We need to be a bit more specific about the reason for the baptism of Jesus. John's baptism was for repentance from sin, but Jesus had never sinned. So why was He baptized? I want to share with you two things that the baptism or Jesus portrays and how that is linked to the Lord's Supper.

I. He is Our Substitute

Baptism is important because it serves as a reminder that Jesus went down into the depths of death so that we might be redeemed. Be assured of this, the death of Christ upon the cross was for our sins and not for any sins of His own. The Lord’s Supper was also a symbol of the sacrifice Jesus was going to provide on the cross for our sins. The Lord’s Supper does not save those who partake of it, but rather is a symbol to remind us of the body He gave and the blood He shed on the cross so that we might be saved. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper and in the same way he gave Baptism to us, as a reminder and symbol of the sacrifice He provides for our redemption. So, partaking of the Lord’s Supper or taking part in Baptism cannot save a person. Baptism for a new Christian is a one-time testimony, but the Lord’s Supper is a repeated reminder of His death and our need to be faithful to Him.

We can be certain that baptism is a picture of the cross, for the scripture states that it is symbolic of our identification with His death.

Look at Romans 6:3-5: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Clearly and plainly baptism is linked directly to the death of our Lord and His resurrection. When you and I became Christians, we were at that moment identified with the death of Jesus. Our old life was placed in Christ who took our sins at Calvary. Also, however, we were raised up to a new life, for we were identified with the resurrection of Jesus. What a glorious picture of the internal, external and eternal change Jesus makes when a person repents from sin and turns to Him in believing faith!

In baptism we see both death and life. There is death to the old sinful man and life given in the new redeemed man. Also, however, there is life in the resurrected Lord. When Jesus was raised up out of the Jordan by John the Baptist, it was a symbol of the resurrection He would experience after the cross. Also, it was symbolic of the resurrection every single believer experiences in Christ.

“Low in the grave He lay,

Jesus our Savior,

Waiting the coming day,

Jesus our Lord.

Up from the grave He arose,

With a mighty triumph over His foes;

He arose a victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever with His saints to reign.

He arose, He arose,

Hallelujah, Christ arose!”

Baptism speaks of the resurrection from the dead and of total victory over our last enemy, which is death. Christ died and rose to give us the victory over that enemy and baptism pictures this for us. When a person is baptized, he is stating that he has believed upon the Lord Jesus for His salvation and he is certain of the resurrection from the dead, because Christ arose and He is the first fruit of all those who will rise. ("But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." I Corinthians 15:20).

We must also think of something else very important concerning baptism. You see, Jesus began His ministry with His baptism. This was the launching point of the work He came to do for our redemption. Likewise, baptism is a picture of the launching of a new life of service for Christ. I was saved without baptism, but baptism was a way for me to testify of my faith in Jesus, to indicate that I was trusting in His death for my forgiveness, and also an act of launching forth into His service. My baptism proclaimed that I was raised to a new life - a life of service to my King.

Now, let’s answer an important question at this point. How many times can a person be saved? Once, and only once. Jesus died only once. How many times should a believer be baptized? Once, for that is the symbol or picture of our salvation. However, it is important to understand that calling something baptism does not necessarily make it baptism. Baptism is the act of following Christ in the waters after having placed faith in Him to be Lord and Savior. Anything that takes place before placing full faith and trust in Jesus, whether it is called baptism or not, is not true baptism.

Baptism must follow salvation and must be a conscious decision of an understanding mind and heart. That is why you will see many people come to be baptized who have already gone through a ceremony called baptism previously. You see, those who do this come to know that they went through a human ceremony but it was not a conscious decision following their commitment to Christ and, therefore, the former act was not baptism. If you are immersed in water before you are saved, you are simply getting wet, you are not truly being baptized.

You will note that John did not want to baptize Jesus. Why? Because he saw, no doubt, the sinless nature of Jesus; and, secondly, he saw his own sinfulness. Dear friend, if you get near Jesus, you will understand your own sinfulness and His glorious sinlessness!!! You will know your need of the Savior and you will willingly follow Him into the baptismal waters.

What about you, have you experienced Biblical baptism? If not, today would be a good day to make the commitment to obey Jesus in this matter. For always remember this, it is not the preacher or the church that instructs you to be baptized, it is the Lord Himself who commands this act. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Some years ago my wife and I visited a couple in their home. I asked the husband about his salvation and he immediately told me that he was baptized as a infant and he was, therefore, a Christian. I explained to him that being baptized as an infant didn't save a person. He became a bit irrate. He said, "Are you questioning my parents, since they are the ones that had me baptized?" I explained that his parents were doing something important for themselves in dedicating him to the Lord, but each person must come to a decisiont to reject or recieve Jesus when they are old enough to do so. He remained a bit testy during our visit and we left with the home more quickly than we had planned. One week later, the man called an made an appointment to see me in my office at the church. I thought he might be coming to give me another piece of his mind on the matter of his infant baptism. He arrived at my office, sat down and began to softly cry. He was a young, strong gentleman and he didn't appear to be the type of guy that wept very often. Through tears he said, "I owe you an apology. After you left, I considered all you said. I went out on my deck and looked up at the sky, and I saw the millions of stars. I knew in that moment that I didn't know the God who made those stars." He continued, "I asked Jesus to forgive me - to save me - to come into my life. Preacher, I was saved that night and I am here to ask you to baptize me." What a delight - what a joy - I felt that day. We set the day for his baptism and his entire family attended.

If you have never been baptized following a commitment to Christ as your Lord and Savior, it is something the Lord is calling you to do. Make that decision and we will set a date for you to obey the Lord in this matter.

So Baptism pictures Jesus as our substitute. He was baptized as a picture of the price He to be paid at the cross for my sin and yours

Note something else very important…

II. He is Our Sovereign Lord

We don't often think of His baptism as unveiling the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but indeed it did just that! We can see this clearly from Scripture.

In Psalm 2:1-12 we read:

“1 Why do the nations rage,

And the people plot a vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves,

And the rulers take counsel together,

Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces

And cast away Their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;

The Lord shall hold them in derision.

5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,

And distress them in His deep displeasure:

6 “Yet I have set My King

On My holy hill of Zion.”

7 “I will declare the decree:

The LORD has said to Me,

‘You are My Son,

Today I have begotten You.

8 Ask of Me, and I will give You

The nations for Your inheritance,

And the ends of the earth for Your possession.

9 You shall break[a] them with a rod of iron;

You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings;

Be instructed, you judges of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear,

And rejoice with trembling.

12  Kiss the Son,[b] lest [c] He be angry,

And you perish in the way,

When His wrath is kindled but a little.

Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

This passage points out that the Anointed One, the King and the Son are one in the same person. Jesus is that One! At His Baptism He is identified as the Son in Whom the Father is well pleased. So we can determine without question that Jesus is the Sovereign Lord, the Anointed One, the Lord, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of all who turn to Him in repentance and faith. Also, however, since He is Lord, we are to obey Him and serve Him faithfully.

Look at how Jesus spoke after His resurrection and just before His ascension as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.’”

He tells His disciples that all authority is His. That is the voice of the Sovereign Lord. Then, He tells them to go forth and baptize believers in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a step of obedience for the believer to follow His Lord in Baptism.

Now let’s look at Baptism and the Lord's Supper as complimenting each other. It has been said that the Apostles never strayed far from the two pillars of the Church: The conversion of our souls and the consequences upon our Souls. Spurgeon once said, “If you look for the Apostles, you will find them standing between those two pillars.” The point is that those who have been converted should reveal the consequences of that change.

1. Baptism testifies that our old life is dead and a new life has begun.
2. The Lord’s Supper always reminds us that our salvation is not due to any work we have done. In fact, the old person is dead and all that we do for our Lord is done IN Him.
3. Baptism reminds us of the price of our salvation – His Death; and, it reminds us of the power of our salvation – His Resurrection.
4. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the extreme cost of our redemption – His body and His blood.
5. Baptism is a one-time event because we can only come to Christ and be saved once.
6. The Lord's Supper is repeated because we are to constantly remember the price He paid for our salvation and by remembering renew our commitment again and again to Him.
7. Baptism signifies our commencement into the Kingdom of God.
8. The Lord's Supper signifies our continuation in the Kingdom of God.
9. In heaven, Jesus will take part in the Lord's Supper with us.
10. Baptism will never be repeated in heaven.

In the end, we can say that both Baptism and the Lord's Supper point to the coming of our Lord and remind us of our duty to be faithful till He comes! So, as we receive the Lord's Supper today, we need to remember that this is an act of remembrance and recommitment to faithfulness. Baptism is a once for all ordinance for the believer, but the Lord's Supper is a repeat ordinance. It is in the Lord's Supper that we are told to consider ourselves carefully before we take it. We should examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith, to see if we are living as we ought, and only then are we to take the Supper. That is, we should confess and repent of every known sin. Let us reflect today on who we are as God's people. And if one is not a child of God, come now to Him!

I do not doubt at all that there is someone here today who is saved, but has never been baptized - at least you never experienced real, genuine, believer's baptism! Come now and obey the Lord. "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry." Some of you may well be thinking to yourself that baptism does not matter. You may say that salvation does not depend upon baptism, and you are right. You may say that you can go to heaven without baptism and you are right. But friend, you need to know that Jesus walked as much as seventy miles to be baptized, even though it was not necessary for salvation. He calls you to be baptized and certainly no one here today who has walked seventy miles to get here. Are you better than your Master? Take the step today to come forward in this service and commit yourself to obey the Lord in this matter. You will honor your Lord, bless your own life, and help others as well.

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