Through the Waters and Wilderness

On Sunday, Pastor Bryon spoke about Scripture’s use of narrative partnering, of how certain themes, symbols, and language get reused with compounding richness and depth of meaning throughout the unfolding arc of creation, fall, and redemption.  We see this in the example of baptism: from the waters covering the earth at its formation; to the earth being flooded at the time of Noah; to the nation of Israel passing through the waters of the Red Sea to escape from Pharaoh’s army in the Exodus; and then into the new Testament with the prophet John calling people to a baptism of repentance. And at each point with the water is the wind of the Spirit of God moving and molding things into a new form.

Baptism can serve as a powerful demarcation point. We see it perhaps most dramatically in the account of the Exodus and in the life of Jesus.  Before the people of Israel passed through the Red Sea, they were slaves and fugitives. Afterwards they become a free people with a new identity and are introduced into a new covenantal relationship with God.  Baptism served this demarcating function in the life of Jesus as well, even though, as our sinless Messiah, he had nothing personally to repent from. Before his baptism, Jesus was living a largely unknown, quiet and obscure life as a village carpenter. Only after his baptism does he transition into his critical period of public ministry.

It may be helpful here, especially for our recently baptized companions, to glean one more piece of wisdom from the narrative partnering of the stories of Israel passing through the Red Sea and the baptism of Jesus. In the Exodus, Israel did not step foot out of the sea and then immediately into the Promised Land.  First, they had to go through a time of testing and in the wilderness.  In this case, due to their failures and fears, they had to endure an additional 40 years in the wilderness. In similar fashion, after Jesus’ baptism, he is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to face his trial of temptation by the devil. Succeeding where his forerunners failed, only then does he go on to preach that the promises of God have been realized and the kingdom of God is at hand.

Are you ready to practice this point of demarcation?  Are you ready to break from the old, to take “the pledge of a clear conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21)?  The Spirit is still moving over the waters, waiting to bring you through them and through the wilderness that follows.

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by Steve Lamp
Steve and his wife Melissa began attending Kingsway in 2014. Not normally prone to public displays of emotion, he wept during the first worship service and knew he had found home. As an avid reader, Steve believes the ideas we allow into our minds are critical to our spiritual formation. He enjoys exploring nature, playing and spending time with his two young sons and over-quoting his favorite authors, C.S. Lewis and Dallas Willard.




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