18 Christ himself suffered on account of sins, once for all, the righteous one on behalf of the unrighteous. He did this in order to bring you into the presence of God. Christ was put to death as a human, but made alive by the Spirit. 19 And it was by the Spirit that he went to preach to the spirits in prison. 20 In the past, these spirits were disobedient—when God patiently waited during the time of Noah. Noah built an ark in which a few (that is, eight) lives were rescued through water. 21 Baptism is like that. It saves you now—not because it removes dirt from your body but because it is the mark of a good conscience toward God. Your salvation comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at God’s right side. Now that he has gone into heaven, he rules over all angels, authorities, and powers.
Have you ever had the experience of reading scripture and had a phrase that seems to speak to you? Maybe it’s certain words that just resonate with you and stay with you all day. I have to confess that when I read today’s scripture, it left me puzzled. Looking it up in commentaries confirmed that I’m not the only one left scratching my head. But two things spoke to me and have stayed with me, the word “baptism” and the phrase “alive by the Spirit.”
The word “baptism” speaks to me by reminding me of what we promised (or our sponsor) at our baptism. Baptism is the public profession of faith, and sign of entering into a covenant relationship with God and God’s people, the community of faith. The water symbolizes our sins being washed away, and reminds us of God’s love for us and God’s saving grace through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. It reminds us that God is faithful. And while we will fall short, and break our baptismal covenant with God, by not trusting God or serving God, God will not break God’s covenant with us.
But baptism is just the beginning of our being in covenant relationship with God and our community of faith. We are born anew “through water and the Spirit,” and we are made alive by the Spirit. The same Spirit that was in Christ and brought Christ from death to life is now within us. The Spirit encourages us and renews us, to follow the example of Jesus, serve our church, and grow in Christ. Together we are the body of Christ at work with God for the transformation of the world.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Think about your baptism or a baptism you have witnessed. Do you remember the covenant vows that were said? The Pastor says the following to the newly baptized:
The Holy Spirit work within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Prayer: Holy God, we give you thanks for the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus for our salvation. May we always remember to be a faithful disciple of your Son Jesus. Amen.