It’s fascinating to consider the world from the point of view of a newborn baby. Their consciousness forms in a world of total darkness. We know that they are somewhat aware of the sounds in their mother’s environment, but I would imagine that those sounds would be muffled, and I wouldn’t expect that they could even begin to understand them. Then, suddenly they’re born into a world of light! As their eyes slowly adjust, they would begin to pick out shapes, and their minds would slowly learn to make sense of visual information.
Even though we all began our lives this way, it’s so strange for us to imagine what it must be like for babies! For example, what would it be like to feel hungry for the first time? I could be wrong about this, but I would imagine that, when a baby is hungry, he or she would cry without even the foggiest idea of what the pain in their stomach is, or what the remedy for that pain could possibly be. They just—cry. Fortunately for them, their mothers hear their cry, understand exactly what they need, and so provide the needed remedy by feeding them. Their need is satisfied even before they understand it. That is my point.
That is pretty much the same way that God satisfies our spiritual needs in Baptism. My Baptism happened when I was eight days old. At that age, I would not have been able to understand much about the needs of my body, much less the needs of my soul. And that’s to say nothing of the articles of the Christian faith, which I would later learn in Sunday School, catechism class, and seminary. However, the Bible makes it clear that our Baptism connects us to Jesus by creating faith in our hearts—even in a newborn baby. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,” it says, “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26–27). And St. Peter explains that the faith that we receive in Baptism gives us “a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21). Faith in Jesus—which God creates in us through Baptism—satisfies the spiritual need for forgiveness with which all mankind is born.
What a blessing it is for a person to begin his life this way. Blessed is everyone who finds this faith at any point in their lives. And blessed are we when, throughout our lives, we maintain, cherish, and ponder this connection with Jesus that we have. He has fully satisfied our need for forgiveness by earning our place in heaven with His innocent life as our substitute and by His sacrificial death for us. He became our Brother so that we should all become children of the heavenly Father.
Baptism connects us with Jesus, in that Baptism is where our faith in Him came from. And every time that we return to our Baptism in repentance, it is also a re-connection with Him. Luther described the Christian life in those words that catechism students memorize: “The old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die.” But, even in this daily struggle—and it certainly is a struggle!—even here we, like newborn babes, trust the Holy Spirit to teach us how to pray, how to repent, and how to receive the full and free forgiveness with which our Savior feeds us. So, whether Baptism is a call to repentance, or a comforting reminder of forgiveness, or simply a thankful description of what it is to be a believer, the words of the hymn writer are appropriate for every station and time of life: “God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!” (ELH 246:1).
Reverend Daniel Finn
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia