John 4:2 ~ "...although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples."
There is a wonderful connection between the Lord and His disciples, so that in the work of Christ to bring the lost to Himself, it was the disciples who ministered the ordinance of baptism. Even today that same work is taking place as the Lord brings into the church those who are being saved and the discipling leaders of the church are the ones performing the work of baptism.
It is the Lord's work to bring the lost to salvation. Consider what it says in Acts 2:47b, "And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." It is the Father who draws the lost to Christ to be saved (see John 6:44). And yet, in that work of saving souls unto eternal life, the Lord Jesus gives opportunity for those who are already His disciples to serve with Him.
So, as we mine this text, let us see if there are some golden nuggets we can find.
First, Jesus baptized no one--and we can reasonably assume that included His own apostles. The baptism that Jesus provides is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire (see Matthew 3:11). All who believe on the Lord Jesus are marked out with a baptism that is eternal. The baptism by water is done by the church--by those who are His disciples--identifying believers to the world as those who belong to Christ. This is why water baptism does not save--for it is only an outward sign of the real baptism that takes place with the Holy Spirit.
Second, the disciples did the work of baptizing new believers. What does this show? It marks out that, even from the beginning of the work of Christ, believers are to participate with Jesus in the work of making disciples. Water baptism is often the first expression of obedience to Christ that is made by the redeemed. Consider in Acts 8:36 the Ethiopian eunuch who heard and believed the message of Christ. "And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, 'See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?'" The apostles were called to make disciples--baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 28:19).
It is of great importance to remember that the church is still called by Christ to participate in the discipling and sanctifying work of the Lord. We are to encourage one another, support and pray for each other, to exhort and admonish, and to build each other in Christ. The work of baptism begins that process and it does not stop until we arrive in His presence.
Third, believers were being baptized by the disciples. A connection was being made for those who would follow the leadership of the apostles. Jesus would not always remain--for He would depart to go to the Father after the work of redemption was completed in His death and resurrection (see John 16:28). These new believers needed to be connected to those who would still remain. Had they been baptized by Jesus, and not the apostles, there would be a break in their connection after Jesus had gone. But, being baptized by the apostles--and now, today, by the discipling leaders of the church--there remains a connection for those who have come to faith in Christ.
Those who say they do not need the church to be a Christian miss a very important aspect of being a Christian--we are called out of the world to be a body, a fellowship, a family and live in this world being united to each other in Christ. People are baptized into Christ, but that baptism is done through the fellowship of believers so that the newly redeemed would have a connection that traces its lineage all the way back to the apostles.
Jesus, alone, does the saving of a soul. But it is the church who participates with Christ in the work of discipling. So, beloved, let us serve in His salvation, even as the apostles did, and provide the opportunity for others to be discipled according to God's word.
In His Grace,
From the Mountains to the Sea
Every step we take on this journey called life ought to be used for greater understanding. I've lived from the mountains to the sea, and this blog is my personal thoughts and observations with a desire for Biblical understanding. Welcome.