Saturday, April 7, 2018
The Power of Baptism
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
The passionate cry of the Apostle Paul is heard here. All the desires of his life have become focused on knowing Jesus Christ. This knowledge has to come about by faith, because we must accept the good news brought to us from that first Easter Sunday — that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead. We are invited to know this resurrection power when, by faith, we are crucified with him. We submit to the authority of Jesus and the kingdom in our lives, and in that way, we are raised to new life, that which is lived in and for the eternal. We become dead to the things below.
The beauty of this passage is that it gives us a picture of baptism. Baptism is the outward sign of the inward work of grace in our lives. When we submit to this most ancient of church sacraments we are participating with Christ. This participation is “knowing” Christ in a way which is more than simply head knowledge. Instead, this is an intimacy in which we are united together with Christ — He in his incarnation, death and resurrection — all of which brings us new life. Just as he united with humanity in the incarnation, we are united with God when we, through faith, acknowledge Christ as our Messiah. It is then that we die to self, going under the water of baptism, and are raised up out of the water, into new life, or resurrection.
When we intentionally unite ourselves to Christ, we become willing to sharing in his sufferings. He suffered for us; we must be willing to sufferer for the sake of others. Public baptism may even bring with it suffering and shame because there are those who will mock us for participating in this sacrament. Yet, our public witness and the grace bestowed upon us in the sacrament are powerful. God’s prevenient, or “preventing” grace experienced in baptism goes with us throughout life, powerfully drawing us into the life of the resurrected Christ.
Paul is expressing the power found in the life transformed through faith and baptism. The result is a participation in the life of Christ which is focused on the kingdom. Everything is done in relation to the new life lived for the sake of Christ. Resurrection power is experienced in the here and now in this newness of life, and resurrection from the dead begins as we are raised up out of the baptismal waters. This is the passionate cry of Paul which he hopes to convey not only to the Philippians, but to all who will read this Epistle and for centuries thereafter, including you and me.
Lord, please help me to live into my baptism day in and day out, for your glory. Amen.