I saw The Great Commission with fresh eyes again today. Here it is:
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV 2010)
As I read it, the words, “baptizing them” jumped off of the page at me. The words seemed so forceful, almost violent. Our Lord commands us to grab people and push them under the water. It’s kind of scary. Perhaps you’ve not seen it that way before. Perhaps, baptism has become a safe religious ritual or a “symbol.” Maybe its become these things because theologians over the centuries have succumbed to the temptation to soften the blow by redefining what’s really happening at baptism.
Even the word “baptism” was invented by theologians who were afraid to directly translate the Greek, baptizo, as “immerse.” Baptism is immersion; immersion is baptism. Immersion requires a 100% commitment. Look at definitions 3 and 4 for immersion from Dictionary.com:
3. state of being deeply engaged or involved; absorption.
4. baptism in which the whole body of the person is submerged in water
Coincidence? I don’t think so. In telling his disciples to make disciples, Jesus built total commitment into the process. Jesus never allowed people to audit discipleship. “Follow me” meant leave all else, witholding nothing. To be his disciple, a person must allow Jesus to literally and figuratively sweep them off their feet. They must fall headlong into his agenda for them. I’m not saying that the “sinner’s prayer” doesn’t work. I’m just saying that besides the fact that it is no where precedented in Scripture, it is more likely to result in half-hearted professers rather than whole life disciples.
In fact, everything about the Great Commission implies that discipleship begins with full engagement, involvement, and absorption into Christ. Look at it again:
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20 NIV 2010, emphasis added)
To paraphrase, Jesus is saying,”I am the supreme ruler of the universe. Invite people to accept my unconditional authority in their lives and then tell them what it is they signed up for.”
Yup – no half-way measures with Jesus! Are you serious about this? No toe in the water, try and see sort of thing – no sir – all in or fold.
This reminds me of a friend we knew some years ago who had been years into the full-title rock-n-roll lifestyle as a professional musician. When he came to Christ, he was still struggling with heavy drug and alcohol addiction the day he went to get baptized. As they lined up by the stage to go up for baptism, he found himself at the back of the line. After a few people went, he suddenly could not take it anymore and run to the front of the line and literally jumped into the water. He said it was like he could not wait another second to get clean. When he came up he was completely healed from all of his addictions, and has never gone back.
Do you want freedom or not? Its all or nothing.
Dude, that’s the best story ever! Almost made me cry. So you’re saying this guy didn’t need every head bowed and every eye closed for him to profess his allegiance to Christ?
Reblogged this on spiritualsavant and commented:
This is a post I put up over a year ago. The more I learn, the more I see the genius of Jesus in commanding baptism.