We don’t like to talk about death.
Even as Christians, even when we know where we will go, where our loved ones are… the sight of the cold casket leaves us uncomfortable. Death is the enemy. It has been stealing away our days since the Garden of Eden.
And so, Jesus came that we might have life! That life, however, comes through death.
Jesus took those nails in His hands, hung suffering on the cross, gave up His life and died… so that we could live. When the tomb cracked open early on Resurrection Sunday morning, life – real life – had triumphed. Death, where is your victory? He is risen – alive! And He offers real life to us.
This life is a free gift that requires only one thing in return – we must die.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
We must repent and believe, understanding that all of our sin makes us worthy of judgment, and absolutely nothing we do can be good enough to save us. Our sinful nature, our self-righteous attempts to justify ourselves, everything we cling to must be nailed to that cross as we grasp that it is only the death of Jesus that can save us. To cling to His life, we must die with Him.
Baptism is really a funeral service – a funeral service that celebrates real life! The baptism itself isn’t what brings you this life-through-death; no one is killed by their own funeral. Baptism is a loud and vivid proclamation that we have already repented of our sin, turned to Jesus Christ in belief, and have been made new.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17
In baptism we are symbolically “buried” and “raised to new life” to publicly state that our old self has been buried – and we have received real life through placing our trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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.
John Piper says it this way:
Baptism portrays what happened to us when we became Christians. This is what happened to us: we were united to Christ. His death became our death. We died with him. And in the same instant, his life became our life. We are now living out the life of Christ in us. And all this is experienced through faith.
This is what it means to be a Christian – to live in the reality of what our baptism portrays: day by day we look away from ourselves to God and say, “Because of Christ, your Son, I come to you. In him I belong to you. I am at home with you. He is my only hope of acceptance with you. I receive that acceptance anew every day. My hope is based on his death for me and my death in him. My life in him is a life of faith in you, Father. Because of him I trust your working in me and for me. The same power and glory that you used to raise him from the dead you will use to help me. In that promise of future grace I believe, and in that I hope. That is what makes my life new. O Christ, how I glory in what my baptism portrays! Thank you for dying my death for me and giving new life to me. Amen.”
This is what it means to be a Christian – to live in the reality of what our baptism portrays. If you haven’t attended your own funeral yet, I pray you will be making arrangements soon!
This post from Ann Voskamp is probably one of the most beautiful descriptions of baptism I have ever read. It is definitely worth your time.