Summary: Wanted: Dead AND Alive! God wants to see the old man in us with its sinful deeds and desires dead, while the new man, that part of a Christian which loves God, to be very much alive (Alfonso Espinosa). The “bounty hunter” who will make us dead and alive i
“Wanted: Dead or Alive!” Posters like this were common in the old West. If your picture was on such a poster, you were in big trouble. Dead or alive, it didn’t matter to the authorities. Either way they would pay the reward money to the bounty hunter who could bring you in.
There is a similar poster hanging in God’s mind with your picture and mine. The poster says: “Wanted: Dead and Alive!” It means that God wants to see the old man in us with its sinful deeds and desires dead, while the new man, that part of a Christian which loves God, to be very much alive (Alfonso Espinosa). The “bounty hunter” who will make us dead and alive is the Holy Spirit. And no, he doesn’t use a pair of six-shooters to make it happen. He uses baptism, a watery tomb & womb.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul has to say about baptism in Romans 6:1-7. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:1-7).
Throughout our sermon series on baptism we’ve been reminded that this sacrament is not just a ceremony. Something really happens when water is applied and God’s name is spoken. The Apostle Paul assures us of this again when he tells us that we have been baptized into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3). What he means is that baptism connects us to everything Christ did and endured. It’s like being given shares in a company like Google. Although you might not be an employee of that company, or have ever set foot in that company’s headquarters, as a shareholder you’re affected by that company’s ups and downs. If their stock goes up, your wealth increases. If their stock goes down, your wealth decreases. In a similar way baptism connects us to Christ so that even though we’ve never seen him, we share in what he did and accomplished.
But what good is it to share in Christ’s death? Have you ever heard of people faking their own death? Just recently there was the story of John Darwin, the British man who supposedly drowned while canoeing near his home. He was presumed dead for five years until he gave himself up in London last December admitting that he was very much alive and had been living in Panama. Why did he fake his own death? To escape his debts and to collect on a life-insurance policy to begin a new life.