Jesus Christ died; Jesus Christ rose;
Jesus Christ gives new life to his people.
Why is baptism so important to Christians? The answer, simply put, is that, apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which baptism depicts, there would be no reason to have a Christian faith. There would be no promises of God worth trusting. If Christ did not die and then rise from the dead, then a Christian’s faith is futile, and to spend this life hoping in Christ is to live the life of someone most to be pitied.
But Christ did indeed die, and he has indeed risen from the dead! His crucifixion and resurrection have launched the fulfillment of all God’s promises to his people. Let me quote from Tom Schreiner, who teaches New Testament at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville. His astute reflections capture the significance of the cross and the resurrection:
Jesus’ suffering and death were the very means by which the promises of salvation in the Old Testament were obtained, and his resurrection from the dead indicates the securing of the promise. The resurrection signifies the arrival of the age to come – the promised age of salvation and new creation that God had pledged. The new exodus and the new creation have arrived through the suffering and resurrection of Jesus. He has taken upon himself the guilt and sin of his people so that they can enjoy freedom and joy as human beings made in God’s image. It is precisely in Jesus’ cross and resurrection that God’s saving promises are realized.
So there you have it. The death and resurrection of Christ are the beginning of God’s making good on all his promises. They are the fulfillment of his pledge to save. Just as really as Jesus rose from the dead, so you can trust God for eternal life, for forgiveness of sin, for the power to change, for a firm and certain place in the glorious age to come.
My appeal to all of you on this baptism Sunday is to put your faith in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Have a settled knowledge of God’s goodness toward you, a goodness that can now be measured by an empty tomb and a Risen Savior.
Grace and Peace!