BEACH SERVICE 2017

30 08 2017

baptism-of-Jesus1

Every year since 1997, on the last Sunday of August, the Lighthouse Church heads to the Beach for a Worship Service that culminates in the celebration of the Baptism of Believers right smack dab in the ocean. This past week, 26 men and women of different ages made an external declaration of the internal work of salvation that happened when they opened up their hearts to Jesus. While everyone comes to receive the gift of everlasting life by grace through faith in what our Lord did for us on the cross of Calvary, it is awesome to hear the stories of the unique avenues that God used to bring his people into a relationship with himself.     

The Baptism of Jesus was an event that made it into all four Gospels. Every author of every gospel found this event so inspiring and so important that it was commanded as a must read by the Holy Spirit. Baptism for Jesus signaled the official beginning of his earthly ministry that would eventually culminate in the death and resurrection of the Son of God. In so many ways, it was the inauguration, or his grand opening, so to speak. But it’s also a bit unusual because there doesn’t seem to be any reason for Jesus to be baptized. I mean, Jesus was perfect and had nothing to be forgiven of.                  

There’s a little confusion about baptism. Some people wrongly think that baptism is the event that makes one a Christian; but nowhere does Scripture teach that baptism saves you. Baptism doesn’t get you to find Jesus. Baptism happens because Jesus has already found you!

There is an old story of an inebriated man who stumbled upon a baptismal service one Sunday afternoon that was being celebrated down by the river. It was down south, back in the day, and this guy walked right down into the water and stood next to the Preacher. The Minister turned and noticed the old drunk and asked him point blank, “Sir, Are you ready to find Jesus?” The drunk looked back and said, “Yes, Preacher. I sure am.” The Minister then dunked the fellow under the water and pulled him right back up. “Have you found Jesus?” the Preacher asked. “No, I haven’t!” said the drunk. The Preacher then dunked him under for a bit longer, brought him up and said, “Now, brother, have you found Jesus?” “No, I haven’t Preacher.” This time quite frustrated, the Preacher held the man under for at least 30 seconds this time, pronouncing the Names of all of the Trinity and the 12 Disciples and finally brought him out of the water and said in a serious tone, “Friend, are you sure you haven’t found Jesus yet?” The old drunk wiped his eyes gasping for breath and said to the Preacher, “No Preacher, I still can’t find Jesus. Are you sure this is where he fell in?”

Baptism isn’t where you find Jesus. Baptism is what a Believer does after you’ve found him. Baptism is a Christian’s way of publicly pronouncing what the Spirit has already privately accomplished in the heart. It is not to be done as one would jump on a Bandwagon. It is to be a personal and individual decision made by someone who is ready to follow the Lord in all kinds of weather and seasons and changing times.

It’s like when a sports team does really well, it’s amazing how many people start wearing their gear. You see Yankees hats in Kentucky even though there’s nobody from Kentucky that has ever been to New York. But the Yankees win and people buy their stuff. That’s why I truly appreciate the real Philadelphia Eagles fans. When I see someone wearing something of the Eagles, I know they are dedicated. It’s not as if they’ve given us anything to be proud of lately, but here is to all the diehards who are never grounded even when the Eagles don’t fly. What do you call a Philadelphia Eagle with a Super Bowl ring? The answer is: A thief. But I am forever hoping that this will be the year our Championship Dreams come true.

Jesus is not looking for fair weather fans. He is calling all people to come out of the crowds and follow him. Those who are being baptized are those Believers locked in to not abandoning Team Jesus no matter how difficult the journey may be.

But that doesn’t answer the question, “Why would Jesus seek to be baptized by John?” This baptism was a moment of humility, commitment and identification. Jesus’ Baptism was a baptism of commitment. He was all in. Jesus took this step of obedience to show us the way. Humility, commitment, and identification: that’s really what baptism is all about.

Christianity has everything to do with the character traits of humility, commitment, and identification.  The baptisms we performed last Sunday were all about humility, commitment and identification. It’s humbling to get into the water in front of everybody. It’s an act of humble obedience to Jesus. It’s also an act of commitment and identification. When you’re baptized and people see you, the expectation level goes way up. People will expect you, and rightly so, to walk the talk. Baptism calls the Believer to fully identify with Christ, and just like he was baptized to identify with us, we’re baptized to identify with Him. He was buried and rose again, and the water symbolizes that we get buried under the water and we rise again to brand new life.

We have all sorts of ceremonies today. Graduation is kind of a stepping into adulthood event in the lives of young people. A wedding ceremony is a public declaration that some-thing in your life has changed. Baptism too should be a stake in the ground that from here on the lives being lived are now done so for the honor and glory of God.

Do you remember what happened when Jesus came out of the water? After Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And there came a voice from heaven that everyone heard saying, “This is my beloved Son. I take eternal delight in Him!” Humble obedience and commitment to Jesus and identification with God always lead to Heaven’s affirmation for those who wear God’s name on earth. For 26 people, a brand new ministry began in their lives in the ocean waters last Sunday. I am here today to pray them on as a launch for their lights to shine bright no matter what!


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