Catechism Unit Question Numbers: 308-310
The Blessings of Baptism
Water is very unique. It is essential to sustain life, for people and animals and plants alike. It is powerful, as can be seen and heard in waterfalls. It is destructive: heavy rains and leaks can damage homes, and natural floods can wash away entire bridges and roadways.
Usually when I think of the story of Noah and the flood, I am in awe of the tremendous destruction that the floodwaters caused. But those waters served another purpose. In the People’s Bible on Genesis, the author states, “We usually think of the flood as an awesome act of destruction. Now, to be sure, it was that. But it was more than that; it was also a marvelous and mighty act of deliverance. The same water that drowned billions of screaming, blaspheming unbelievers lifted the ark with its precious cargo high above all of the death and destruction.” In talking about the flood, the apostle Peter explained that “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.” (1 Peter 3:21)
When water is combined with the words of baptism, we receive a gift that is the most unique of all, a gift that is powerful beyond understanding, a gift that is essential for spiritual life: the gift of God’s grace.
The Catechism states, “Through Baptism, we receive the benefits of all that Christ has done.” If you put in all the time and effort on a group project at school, does it irritate you that the others in the group get the same grade as you? If you work much harder at your job than your coworkers, but someone else in your department is rewarded with the promotion you deserved, don’t you feel slighted? It is human nature to demand that credit is given only where credit is due – anything less is just not fair! Was this the attitude of Christ? “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8) Christ loved us when we didn’t want to have anything to do with him or his Father’s will. Christ humbled himself to live among us and be a servant to us. Christ gladly took upon himself all of our sins, all of our wrongs, all of our laziness and selfishness and jealousy and greed and anger and hatred and every evil thought, word, and deed. Christ willingly completed everything that was required for our salvation, and he continually reminds our Father in heaven that all he has done should be credited to us! We didn’t do any of the work; in fact, our sinful nature was working against God. Yet because of God’s baptismal grace, we receive Christ’s A+++! We receive the promotion to Child of God and Heir of Everlasting Life! Praise be to God for his profound and undeserved love for us!