Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Holy Baptism: Identifying with the death and resurrection of Christ1 Peter: 3:17-22
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…
The text is an exhortation that the writer of 1 Peter gives to a Christian community threatened and distraught by the perils and pain of persecution on account of their fidelity to Christ Jesus. Many among them were enduring torture as they had openly borne witness to their faith through baptism. Reassuring them, the writer conjoins the suffering readers and their experiences primarily with that of their Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who suffered and died on the cross. The writer opines that the unjust suffering and brutal death of Jesus Christ at the hands of the Roman Empire was not to be perceived as absolute catastrophe. Christ who apparently failed in the sight of his persecutors was vindicated through His resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God. Jesus himself had stated this principle in other words in His Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”
Secondly, the life and witness of Noah is also alluded to for the relief and confidence of the persecuted. Noah had to endure the flood but he was kept unto salvation from God’s judgment. 1 Peter connects the image with the idea of Christian baptism and expresses both as expressions of God’s saving grace. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is administered in the Holy Church in obedience to the directive of our Lord Jesus Christ who has been given all authority and power both in heaven and on earth. Hence, participation in the sacrament is an open indication of one’s acknowledgement of and allegiance to the Lordship of Christ. Baptism in itself cannot save anyone, but it is an important step of obedience to Christ in which we publicly identify ourselves with Him in His death and resurrection. Just as Christ who suffered a violent death was vindicated by God the baptized who share in Christ’s death will certainly share in Christ’s resurrection. In other words, it was a reassurance to the disheartened Christians that even if they had to offer their lives in martyrdom, the day is coming soon when they will be vindicated.
“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” This famous last line from the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind expresses winter as a metaphor for death or gloom in our lives. However the poet cannot but express his hope about the future through the metaphor of Spring which is a season of hope. Similarly, in our times when death and destruction looms large and intimidates our innocent existence and we find it difficult to keep our hopes alive this text is all the more significant. It assures that though violence threatens to overwhelm God’s people, God certainly rescues the faithful in God’s own time. Christ’s resurrection and ascension assure us that our God is still all-powerful. We who are baptized and have sacrificially proclaimed our loyalty to the Lord need not ultimately fear and panic in utter hopelessness about the demoralizing experiences of this world today for we have a definite emancipation.
Lord you are our hope even when our hope is apparently at risk amidst our troubled lives. Help us to remember that you are always on our side, Amen.
Thought of the day
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu.
Rev. Sujith Sam Mammen