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16And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

 17And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matt. 3:16-17)

This past Sunday the Church recalled the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Mark Henderson of Glosses from an Old Manse uncovered this treasure from a Martin Luther sermon of 1534:

At the Jordan, in his thirtieth year, Christ reveals himself fully for the first time. John is shocked by [his desire to be baptized] and says, “Shall I baptize you? I am not worthy.” But Jesus responds, “Be content; this is the way it should be.” The Son, who is without sin, allows himself to be baptized for our example and our comfort. He does something here that is not required of him, whereas we do nothing that is not required of us. More, we do what is evil. How will we ever get to the point of doing something not required? Christ is holier even than baptism, yet still allows himself to be baptized. Thereby he institutes baptism. So those accursed people who despise or ridicule baptism are banished to the depths of hell. May God blight them and blind them, since they don’t have the ears and eyes to see what is going on here. Although they do not choose baptism, God’s Son does! Are we so arrogant that we should despise baptism? Even if it offered us nothing at all, we should honor baptism simply for Christ’s name’s sake, and be baptized to honor him.

Jesus never said, ‘For thee but not for Me’. Our Saviour asked His earthly cousin John to baptise Him before embarking on His public ministry. That is how essential He considered it.

Yet, there are many notional Christians, members of paedo-baptismal denominations, who neglect to have their children baptised.  ‘Oh, I won’t worry about it now. They can make the decision later.’

Luther is right to ask for God’s condemnation of those who consider themselves and their children to be above Baptism.

This can become problematic as the child grows up and, naturally, feels little affection for Christ or His Church. I know a few parents who thought their offspring would be drawn as if by osmosis to Christianity. When that didn’t occur, they were shocked and troubled. ‘I just assumed it would happen,’ they told me.

By then, it was too late. By their teenage years, these children had no knowledge of their parents’ faith. Nor did they have the desire to know anything about it.

John Calvin shared Luther’s sentiments on Baptism:

Let those, then, who embrace the promise of mercy to their children, consider it as their duty to offer them to the Church, to be sealed with the symbol of mercy, and animate themselves to surer confidence, on seeing with the bodily eye the covenant of the Lord engraven on the bodies of their children. On the other hand, children derive some benefit from their baptism, when, being ingrafted into the body of the church, they are made an object of greater interest to the other members. Then when they have grown up, they are thereby strongly urged to an earnest desire of serving God, who has received them as sons by the formal symbol of adoption, before, from non-age, they were able to recognise him as their Father. In fine, we ought to stand greatly in awe of the denunciations that God will take vengeance on every one who despises to impress the symbol of the covenant on his child, (Genesis 17: 15) such contempt being a rejection, and, as it were, abjuration of the offered grace.  (Institutes, 4.16)

Parents who belong to churches practising infant baptism and who are vacillating about having their children baptised would do well to reconsider their position on the matter.

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