Summary: A message about what we learn from Jesus’ baptism and how we prepare for communion from Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet. We had communion and adult baptism on the same day.
Cleansed & Washed
Date: Sept 14, 2008
In our church we celebrate two sacraments, or ordinances, whatever you might call them. I prefer to call them sacraments. And I prefer that word because I do believe that Christ is spiritually present with us when we observe these rituals.
An ordinance is something God has ordained for us to do
Any act of obedience is an act of worship, and since we know that Christ ordained these two acts, then we worship him through obedience when we observe them. Therefore, since we know that God inhabits the praise of his people, and worship is praise to God, then God (Christ) is present with us and therefore providing his grace and mercy to us through these acts of obedience.
Okay, so that’s why I prefer to use the term sacrament. As far as I know, there is no reference anywhere in the Bible to the word sacrament OR ordinance, so it’s a matter of interpretation and what definition a group or culture attaches to them.
Today, we will observe both sacraments. In just a few moments we will receive communion. This afternoon we will celebrate believers’ baptism.
So this morning, I thought it would be appropriate to look at both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper rather than one or the other.
Before Jesus began his public ministry, he was baptized by John, in the Jordan River. He was an adult. Adult baptism has traditionally been called “Believer’s Baptism.” The first extra-biblical references to “Believers’ Baptism” date back as early as 120 AD in the Didache and there we find instructions on how to carry out a baptism. It’s interesting to note some of the preferences for this ordinance:
First of all: Cold water was preferred over warm (we may have that this afternoon!)
Second, it should be “living” water (or running water) that is used (such as a river...).
Thirdly, it was ordered that the one being baptized should fast one or two days before. In fact, all those at the baptism were encouraged to fast, but at the very least, those being baptized.
Now the Didache is not an authoritative word from the Lord like the Bible is, but we CAN learn from it what the practices for baptism were in the days immediately following Paul’s letters and the gospel writings. The candidates for baptism will likely be happy to hear that it’s thought that the reason for cold, running water had to do with health. The fasting? Well, that’s a good spiritual discipline for any age.
As we look at baptism first this morning, I want to give you some things that I believe we see from what the Bible says. First, I believe:
1. Baptism is a sign of cleansing.
And the reason I’m suggesting that is because Oxford’s dictionary says that to “cleanse” is to make thoroughly clean - to get rid of something unpleasant or unwanted.”
First John tells us that if we confess our sins he (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
And Jesus when he was persuading John to baptize him said that his baptism was necessary in order to “fulfill all righteousness.”