“4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, ‘After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ “
The Baptism of Jesus
“9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'”The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 1:4–11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
After reading this passage, do you have an inkling of what I’m about to say? It’s a phrase we often use; only three words. C’mon, I know you do. Any Emergency Professional who has spent their fair share of time working has it coded into their DNA. We cannot help ourselves; it is a defining feature of who we are. We heard it when we were but little probies, and it welded itself onto our proverbial quote wall—baptism by fire.
Yes! Oh, how I love saying it to each and every EMT student I meet! New Paramedic on the street? Here are the keys, here’s your jump bag–opp there go the tones–baptism by fire. Can you recall what that saying means to you? Do you remember that first bad call you went on? The first call that blew away all your perceived notions of the job? Remember the feeling after “that one” call, page, or patient that genuinely tested your mettle and had you walking away saying, “yes, this is me. This is where I belong.” Baptisms change things, and they start something new. You know this, and you’ve felt this.
John came proclaiming a different kind of baptism. It was a baptism of repentance. The biblical definition of repentance literally translates to “the act of changing one’s mind.” Like a baptism by fire offers us a new beginning and fresh perspective on our job, being baptized by the Spirit gives us the chance to repent and change our minds on the nature and love of God. It provides us with a scene, feeling, movement, or opportunity to say, “yes, God, this is me. You are with whom I belong.” You walk away from the world, and you change your mind about God. And it is a baptism that happens every morning we wake up. Spending your first waking minutes with God, is like a refreshing pause in time that offers you a powerful moment to rememer who’s you are.
You know what it feels like to be baptized by fire. Now, be baptized by the Spirit–each and every day.
Each new day brings with it worries, sin, and burdens that weigh down our souls. Let our bed be like the waters of the Jordan and wash away our old selves every time we go to sleep. Teach us to rise, feeling like a new ceration: loved and empowered by You. Baptize us in Your Spirit, Lord. Amen.