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What is the truth about baptism?

baptism, Jesus, Urantia Book, John the Baptist, the forty days, Dane Davis, great decisions

Today, we discuss: Why was Jesus Baptized? By Dane Davis. In both the Bible and in The Urantia Book Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan is chronicled. It was an important day in the life of the Master. But - why did he submit to John's baptism? It is a good question, and this author has hit upon a couple of good reasons. We blog about baptism - Jesus' baptism and our own - in the space below using Urantia Book teachings to illuminate this interesting time in the life of any believer. But first, here is just a snip from the article regarding the possible reasons that Jesus was baptized:

"Possibility #1: Jesus was baptized in order to identify with those he came to save. According to the theologian Albert Barnes, "When John emerged, the people flocked to hear him and to be baptized. Throughout the whole country there was an unprecedented movement towards God. And Jesus knew...that he too must identify himself with this movement towards God" John's baptism was part of the people's turning from sin and turning toward God. Jesus wanted to identify with this turning. That makes sense, doesn't it?

"Possibility #2: Jesus was baptized in order to mark the official start of his ministry. Since John would be handing the ministry baton over to Jesus when Jesus was ready to begin his ministry, what better place to do that than in the Jordan River where John — for quite some time — had been helping people turn from their sin and prepare themselves for Jesus' coming? This possibility makes sense, too.

Click to read the article

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Jesus - a man of the people; his hour had come

The possible reasons shown above that the author gives for Jesus' submitting to baptism are pretty much spot-on - according to the Bible and according to the teachings of The Urantia Book. Here are some supporting passages and stories from The Urantia Book that make this very clear:

From "The Meeting of Jesus and John

135:8.5 Being engrossed with the details of rapidly baptizing such a large number of converts, John did not look up to see Jesus until the Son of Man stood in his immediate presence. When John recognized Jesus, the ceremonies were halted for a moment while he greeted his cousin in the flesh and asked, "But why do you come down into the water to greet me?" And Jesus answered, "To be subject to your baptism." John replied: "But I have need to be baptized by you. Why do you come to me?" And Jesus whispered to John: "Bear with me now, for it becomes us to set this example for my brothers standing here with me, and that the people may know that my hour has come."

135:8.6 There was a tone of finality and authority in Jesus' voice. John was atremble with emotion as he made ready to baptize Jesus of Nazareth in the Jordan at noon on Monday, January 14, A.D. 26. Thus did John baptize Jesus and his two brothers James and Jude. And when John had baptized these three, he dismissed the others for the day, announcing that he would resume baptisms at noon the next day. As the people were departing, the four men still standing in the water heard a strange sound, and presently there appeared for a moment an apparition immediately over the head of Jesus, and they heard a voice saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." A great change came over the countenance of Jesus, and coming up out of the water in silence he took leave of them, going toward the hills to the east. And no man saw Jesus again for forty days.

Following this baptism, Jesus went off by himself for his Forty Days in the wilderness, where he formulated his plans for the public work he would so soon organize. This period of time has not been well understood until The Urantia Book came to us. But now, it is very clear exactly what happened during this momentous sojourn on the slopes of Mt Hermon. Considering the importance of the incarnation, considering the nature of Jesus - man and God - it only makes sense that he would carefully plan the inauguration of his public work

From "The Forty Days:"

136:3.3 Jesus did not go into retirement for the purpose of fasting and for the affliction of his soul. He was not an ascetic, and he came forever to destroy all such notions regarding the approach to God. His reasons for seeking this retirement were entirely different from those which had actuated Moses and Elijah, and even John the Baptist. Jesus was then wholly self-conscious concerning his relation to the universe of his making and also to the universe of universes, supervised by the Paradise Father, his Father in heaven. He now fully recalled the bestowal charge and its instructions administered by his elder brother, Immanuel, ere he entered upon his Urantia incarnation. He now clearly and fully comprehended all these far-flung relationships, and he desired to be away for a season of quiet meditation so that he could think out the plans and decide upon the procedures for the prosecution of his public labors in behalf of this world and for all other worlds in his local universe.

More about the baptism and ... what else happened during the Forty Days?

While engaged in this intensive period of adjustment and meditation, Jesus decided upon definite plans regarding his future work and formulated six great decision that would guide him throughout the remainder of his public ministry. You can read about his plans and these decisions HERE. I guarantee you will be most interested in this revelation of the Master's actions during this time.

About the Baptism of Jesus

136:2.6 When Jesus was baptized, he repented of no misdeeds; he made no confession of sin. His was the baptism of consecration to the performance of the will of the heavenly Father. At his baptism he heard the unmistakable call of his Father, the final summons to be about his Father's business, and he went away into private seclusion for forty days to think over these manifold problems. In thus retiring for a season from active personality contact with his earthly associates, Jesus, as he was and on Urantia, was following the very procedure that obtains on the morontia worlds whenever an ascending mortal fuses with the inner presence of the Universal Father.

136:2.7 This day of baptism ended the purely human life of Jesus. The divine Son has found his Father, the Universal Father has found his incarnated Son, and they speak the one to the other.

136:2.8 (Jesus was almost thirty-one and one-half years old when he was baptized. While Luke says that Jesus was baptized in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, which would be A.D. 29 since Augustus died in A.D. 14, it should be recalled that Tiberius was coemperor with Augustus for two and one-half years before the death of Augustus, having had coins struck in his honor in October, A.D. 11. The fifteenth year of his actual rule was, therefore, this very year of A.D. 26, that of Jesus' baptism. And this was also the year that Pontius Pilate began his rule as governor of Judea.)

Are you baptized? Should you be?

When John the Baptist went abroad in Palestine, baptizing with water as he went - declaring and prophesying the coming of the Deliverer - he was performing baptism as a means of marking the believer's entry into the fellowship of God. And Jesus, knowing how important a ritual this was for the people who followed John, submitted to the ritual himself as an example to the onlookers.

Water baptism has been a feature of human evolution for time out of mind. It arose as a result of our ancient forebears' ideas of the spirit moving within moving waters: bubbling springs, flowing rivers, etc. And this ritual of water baptism proceeded down into the times of Jesus, and even down to the times in which we now live.

But when Jesus came to earth, he sought to illuminate this age-old ritual when he said: "John did indeed baptize with water, but when you enter the kingdom of heaven, you shall be baptized with the Spirit." As it was, water baptism was about the only feature of John's ministry that survived the new teachings of Jesus:

144:7.1 Always does the socialized religion of a new revelation pay the price of compromise with the established forms and usages of the preceding religion which it seeks to salvage. Baptism was the price which the followers of Jesus paid in order to carry with them, as a socialized religious group, the followers of John the Baptist. John's followers, in joining Jesus' followers, gave up just about everything except water baptism.

And yet, as mentioned, water baptism is still seen today as an absolute requisite for a believer's admittance into many churches. But is it something that God requires of us? Maybe my story can help...

My story

I want to add my own experiences with baptism here as a way of helping the reader see how the teachings of The Urantia Book impacted this pilgrim's journey.

When I was an infant I was baptized in the Catholic Church; I knew nothing of it; I did not ask for it; I never really understood what it meant. Nevertheless, I did understand that it was something important as I grew up in the shadow of the Church's teachings; so much so, that even though I had left the church in my 20s, when I had a child of my own, I desired that he be baptized, too - just in case they had been right all along! I did not want to jeopardize my son's soul, even if I myself might have gotten it wrong. I thought: what harm could it do? And so I sought a priest do to this...the priest who had performed the rite of marriage for me and my husband.

Imagine my surprise when my son was denied baptism in the Church - why? Because I was no longer a practicing Catholic. In effect (to my mind at the time), the priest who denied my son's baptism was condemning my child to hell because his mother would not submit to the rules and regulations of the Church. It was so upsetting to me that I baptized him myself as a result of a remembered teaching that I had retained about baptism: namely, the "baptism of desire." And when I had done this ritual, I felt much better, trusting that God would care for my son's soul, even if the Church would not. This also galvanized my decision to steer clear of churches and their rules.

As the result of discovering the amazing storehouse of revealed truth in The Urantia Book many years later, I no longer entertained scary ideas of a wrathful God; no longer had any fear or belief in hell; no longer believed that baptism was something that God required of his children in order for them to be saved. Instead, I now understood that the "baptism of the Spirit" that Jesus spoke of - through conscious choice - was far more important than any ritual of water baptism. I felt as though I had certainly experienced this higher form of baptism as a result of the book's teachings. It was the unmistakable experience of being "born again."

What comes first...rebirth in the Spirit or baptism?

I once remaked on this to one of my devotedly Catholic sisters and she said "Oh MaryJo, you were born of the spirit when you were baptized!" And to her I could only reply: "How can an infant consent to being born of the Spirit?"

My point of course is, that the outward signs of baptism - the pouring of the water, the intoning of prayers, the promises made by the godparents on the infant's behalf - are really just the trappings of ritual unless the one being baptised has first made the choice to be led by the Spirit of God...unless that person is minded to be born again. Baptism is very sweet, very meaningful to those who witness, but in my view, water baptism should be the RESULT - the celebration of the "baptism of the Spirit" experience - it cannot be its cause.

As I get older, I am far more understanding of a lot of things. I understand why people get baptized, and I support fully this ritual in a person's life; in fact, I myself was baptized with water several years ago in a beautiful flowing steam near Yosemite Park in California, and it was a superb and sublime experience. Now, I have been baptized twice...once as an infant and once as an adult - for good measure!

Nevertheless, it was nothing more than a conscious decision to make an outward sign of my devotion to God - a devotion that had been born many years before when the teachings of The Urantia Book made the scales fall from my eyes about so many things. The water was not necessary, but it was comforting to make this gesture - to solemnicize my having been "baptized with the Spirit." and to celebrate my love for God and my purpose to live a Spirit-led life.

I shall always remember this experience with great fondness. And I look upon baptism now as a comforting ritual for anyone- but I have no illusions of some imaginary power inherent in flowing water that can turn a soul to God who has not first made that choice for themselves. That decision must come first, and all else can be a celebration of that choice.

Jesus demonstrated this by his own baptism; John's ministrations did not suddenly turn Jesus to righteousness. He was already righteous. The baptism was simply a means of celebration and of identifying himself as the Deliverer promised by John.

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