Circumcision was an illustration of our inability to save ourselves. We need God to save us. We need bloodshed to save us. We need a new (circumcised) heart. We need a new life. Only God gives new life, true faith, the Savior, and salvation. Baptism illustrates those very same truths. We do not baptize ourselves. It is done to us.
In Luke 12:50, as part of a wide-ranging discourse with strong eschatological overtones, our Lord Jesus characterizes his coming death in a striking way. He said, “But I have a baptism with which to be baptized and how I constrained until it has been finished” (βάπτισμα δὲ ἔχω βαπτισθῆναι, καὶ πῶς συνέχομαι ἕως ὅτου τελεσθῇ). He was speaking figuratively of his coming suffering and death. What is particularly notable here is that he chose the imagery of baptism with which to characterize his approaching suffering and death.
Baptism - Figure - Death - First - Part
Why would he do this? What is there about baptism that lends it to being used as a figure for death? First, we should see that this is part of an ancient pattern. Baptism is the New Testament sign and seal of initiation into the visible covenant community. It’s precursor was circumcision, which was a bloody initiation into the visible people. It was a ritual death. When Abraham was circumcised as an old man, he was as good as dead. When his sons and those males in his household were circumcised they were “cut off” from their old life and into the covenant people outwardly. In Abraham’s case, we know that he believed before he was circumcised. Genesis 15:6 says that “Abraham believed God and it credited to him for righteousness.” Paul appeals...
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