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baptism

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BIBLE PASSAGE - Matthew 3.13-17

Jesus began his ministry by getting baptised. What is baptism? The word itself comes from the Greek word 'bapto' which means 'to dip something into a fluid and then take it out again'. In English, baptise means 'to cause something to be dipped'. That's why Baptists believe what they do.

What are the stages of baptism? Look at Acts 2.37-38 and Mark 16.15-16. From this we learn that we need to repent then believe. We need to have a good conscience before God (1 Pet 3.21) and we need to commit to a life of being a disciple (Matt 28.19-20). Baptism can and should lead to a new level of commitment from us to God and his Kingdom.

In this passage we see that Jesus was baptised by John ­ even though John didn't think he was up to the task! Being with Jesus has that effect on us - we realise that compared to him we aren't much!

We also see John's obedience. Once Jesus told him that it was God's will to be baptised by John, John agreed. Is this a lesson you need to learn?

What happened when Jesus came up out of the water (?) - the miraculous. It often does when God is at work! Heaven opened and God's Spirit came down on Jesus like a dove. (This is why a dove often represents the Holy Spirit). Then God's voice came from heaven saying that Jesus was his son who he loved and who he was well pleased with.

From this we learn to approach baptism with a sense of expectation about what God will do for us. We can also be 'baptised in the Spirit' and see God really bless us once we have been baptised. Is this something you need to do?

Some churches teach that we need to learn more about baptism before we get baptised. Sometimes we read a book, sometimes we may do a short course. Do you think we should wait before we get baptised? Have a look at Acts 8.35-39 and Acts 16.25-34.

- QUESTIONS -

- What have you learned from this bit of the Bible?
- How can you apply it to your life?
- Can children be baptised? (Acts 10 and Acts 16) Can young children make the kinds of decisions that baptism requires?
- What do you think it means to be 'baptised in the Spirit'? Do you agree with this?

- WORK OUT -

- Have you been baptised? What happened next?
- Do you think you should be baptised? Do you fulfill the conditions?

Did you know?

Did you know that Jewish baptism (from ancient times up to today) involves someone baptising themselves by immersing themselves in water? Messianic Jews usually follow this kind of baptism today. This has led to speculation that this is most likely the way that John 'baptised' Jesus and the other people he baptised. Traditional Judaism requires converts into Judaism to immerse themselves fully in water in a Mikvah or body of "living water." (Thanks to Wikipedia for this). Therefore, we could view John the baptist's role as an enabler of others baptising themselves, rather than the baptiser of others.

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