Jesus baptism story is a story of intensity and drama; and if you're hungry for connection with God this story is for you.
Jesus came to the water for baptism along with all the sinners. He came to earth because we sinners need God; but he came to the water for something big to happen. When he was baptized by John heaven was torn apart and God extended his presence into our world and time.
We need God to break out of heaven and reach into our lives. Our selfishness and greed proves just how broken we are. There's only one in the whole universe who can ever put all the pieces of our broken lives together. Baptism is God's breaking in moment. This is know quiet moment. The cosmos is being shredded so that God can claim his adopted son or daughter in the water and blood of baptism.
We need God to break it. We need the one who made us and who offered a son's blood and life to make us whole. We need baptism just like every one who came to find John at the Jordan River needed baptism. We need to confess our sins and be washed in the water; washed in the blood of the lamb. We need to be made whole. Baptism is not a naming ceremony. Baptism is bigger. Baptism is a deep and primal connection with God who withholds nothing to save us. Baptism is bathing in the blood of Christ's death in order that we might rise with him to new life.
There's real drama in baptism. There's a real story here to tell that makes the announcement at the end so sweet to hear, "And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”" (Mark 1:11, NRSV) We love to hear the voice, but we forget the drama of the dying and rising in the water that go along with the announcement of our new identity.
Baptism means dying and rising.
I've met some families who really wrestle with baptism. One dad and I spoke about his son who's not baptized. His son's mother refuses to even consider it. She was never baptized and she won't hear of her son being baptized; but this dad knows full well that baptism matters. He knows in the very core of his being that his son needs to hear the word of grace that Jesus heard when he emerged up out of the water; and this dad knows that there's drama going on within a baptism that he can't deny just to placate his son's mother.
As a pastor here I've rarely turned down a chance for a baptism. There's a drama going on in church every time a child or adult comes for baptism. David Wells said it this way, "What happens at baptism is that God places a song in the new believers heart. And it is very easy for her, especially if she is around four months old, to forget the tune.” Holiness: Baptism (Mark 1:9-15) by David F. Wells Wells wisely reminds us that we need company with us to help us know the story. When we are separated from the church we lose sight of the drama of baptism. We need to know the story and to know that the drama has happened for us.