Scripture: 1 Peter 3:18-22
18For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
For — Peter is connecting how we may suffer in this world according to God’s will even as we “do good” (See vs 17). In our sufferings we may consider our Lord Jesus who:
suffered…once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous,
that he might bring us to God being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.
Jesus’ ministry continued in the spirit and with proclamation of God’s freedom in Christ. vs. 20
Baptism corresponds to the story of Jesus… and indicates our participation in His mission. vs. 21-22
Peter is not making baptism the agent of God’s salvation. Rather he is connecting the act of baptism with the immersion of our decision-making capacities (conscience) in the grace of God in the Gospel. In verse 18 Peter captures the movement of Jesus born into this world: suffering for sins on the cross, put to death, raised again, and then vs. 22 ascended to the Father.
Baptism “corresponds” to the story of Jesus. The appeal of baptism as we make the confession that “Jesus is Lord,” is for God to grant us the grace to live by the Spirit of Jesus in this world of relationships infected with brokenness and darkness. By joining with Jesus’ ministry by the same Spirit that raised him from the dead we may see people delivered from captivity of sin and into God’s forgiveness and His Kingdom (just as God delivered Noah and his family of eight.) Now we look forward to the end of suffering with Jesus in heaven where all things and powers are being brought under Him.
This Gospel approach to life is “salvation.” Baptism is part of our redemptive process because of how the act aligns us with the work and community of Jesus in the world by the Spirit of God.
Heavenly Father, Today I am remembering the day of my baptism and our celebration of your grace toward me. Thank you for the hope that pulls me forward and gives perspective to the troubles of this world. Even this day fill me with your Spirit that I may live aware of the company of Jesus and join you in loving people. AMEN.