This weekend marks the annual celebration of the key historical and doctrinal event of the Christian faith, namely the death and resurrection of its founder, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ claimed to be the Son of God, actually to be God come in human flesh. For such blasphemy in Jewish eyes, he was put to death. Significantly, his Crucifixion by the Romans took place on the eve of the Jewish Passover festival.
The Passover festival marked the annual celebration of the Jews deliverance from Egypt, a place of slavery under Egyptian pharaohs. The night the Angel of Death struck the first born of Egypt, he ‘passed over’ dwellings where the blood of a goat or lamb had been smeared on the door posts.
This only happened where Jews obeyed the edict of their leader Moses to eat a last meal of the slaughtered animal in readiness to quit Egypt for good.
Such was the shock and terror, that the Pharaoh ordered the Jews out of Egypt.
And then relented, ordering his military to bring them back.
Thus they were pursued by the mighty Egyptian military. They escaped as they passed through a gap in the Red Sea – and the pursuing Egyptians drowned as the waters returned.
Thus the Jews escaped God’s judgement of death by the blood of a lamb and escaped the physical grasp of Pharaoh’s armies when they passed through the waters of the Red Sea.
Those two remarkable, physical events are brought together in the doctrine and practice of the Christian church at the Cross of Christ and in Christian Baptism.
Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb.
At the cross he is slain for those who believe. He sheds his blood in atoning sacrifice; and his resurrection is proof of the resurrection power of God in the life of the believer who submits to God’s will.
In Christian baptism in water, the act of going down speaks of participating in Christ’s death while coming back up speaks of deliverance from the power of Satan [Pharaoh] and sin [slavery] to live a new life in the resurrection power supplied by God.
Acting in faith, the Christian finds true spirituality.
But this spirituality depends on believing in, and following the example of Jesus Christ in the simplicity of his death and resurrection.
Trusting that he was God come in human flesh; that he was the sacrifice for our sins; that he did rise from the dead because God the Father willed it; that he did open the way for us to follow him and be delivered from sin and Satan; that he ordained baptism in water as the way to appropriate what Christ has done for us and make it real in our lives.
That the resurrection power of God to obey God is real in the life of the believer baptised by immersion in water in the name of Jesus Christ.
This spirituality, this reality, is therefore available only in this way – by believing and acting.
This spirituality cannot be obtained otherwise.
It cannot come through academic study. It cannot come by accepting the materialist views of this present world which reject the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. It cannot come through any other faith or religion. It cannot come by living a ‘good life’ out of our own natural human resources. It cannot come all the while we refuse to believe it.
It can only come the way God has ordained, through the teaching and example of Jesus Christ; it comes to those who believe and obey, submitting to the ordinance of being baptised by immersion in water !