No matter how you cut it, the passages in the Bible which talk about Baptism always speak of Baptism not as something we do for God, not as some commitment or decision on our part, not as some ordinance or 11th commandment tacked on to the gospel of God’s grace, but rather as something which God does for us – washing us, clothing us, giving birth to us, adopting us, saving us. Baptism is a means of grace, a visible gospel by which God creates and also strengthens faith.
But of all the images or pictures the Bible uses to teach us about the blessings of this gospel in the sacrament of Baptism, the picture Paul uses in Romans 6 is the strangest to our ears.
Normally we think of Baptism in terms of new life and new beginnings. But what does Paul say? “All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.” Not only that, “we were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death.” It may sound morbid. But every baptism involves a death, a burial, a funeral.
But then Paul goes on to say, “in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Paul says not only that we were “united with Him in His death,” but that “we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.” Every baptism involves a resurrection, a new life. In the gospel of Baptism, Christ makes His Good Friday our Good Friday. He makes His Easter our Easter. Christ took our sins with Him to the grave. And just as Christ was raised up to a new and glorified life on Easter so we too have begun to live a new kind of life, a life that is more than existing, a life that is truly living, walking with God each day until we are finally resurrected to glory in heaven.