It happened during a Confirmation Class. Students come up with some brilliant insights. Teaching Confirmation is a special treat because young Christians learning about Jesus, about salvation, and about faith can see things from a fresh angle that their teacher never thought of before. And that is thrilling!
Some years ago in the middle of class one of the students, Sarah, asked, "So can I call Baptism 'The Wet Word'?" I thought to myself, "That's better than all the other words I was going to use. That's really cool!"
"The Wet Word" is a wonderful way of saying it. Right at the center of Baptism is nothing else than the same life-giving, sin-forgiving word of God. The Word is what powers Baptism. "Without the Word of God it is just plain water and no baptism; but with the Word of God it is a Baptism, that is a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a bath of the new birth in the Holy Spirit." (Baptism Question 3) God wants us always to hear and hold on to and treasure His word. He puts all the treasures of salvation in the Word; everything that Jesus earned for us on the cross.
And yet, there is something special about Baptism. It is physical, and we get to experience the Words and Promises of God in a very distinct way. God pours His Words and Promises over our heads, and soaks us down with something eternal. How cool is that?! And then while He is busy soaking us down with the life-giving, sin-forgiving "Wet Word" -- at the same time He is packing His Word in through our ears all the way down deep into our souls. Something for the body and something for the soul. Why that might even give you the idea that God wants both parts of us saved and living forever -- the spiritual and the physical parts. It should give you that idea; because that is exactly what God has in mind. "We wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:23) And what is that Word of God that He packs into our ears all the way down deep into our souls? It is nothing else than the Name; the name of God Himself. That's how personal it is.
Many years ago I wandered into my brother's room. He is the talented one, who was working with clay, molding things and getting them fired in a kiln. He was molding chess pieces and had decided to give each pawn its own personality. He was in the middle of talking with one of them, changing its expression, and carrying on, until he decided that it was a little dry for what he was doing and popped it into his mouth to moisten it. Of course I reacted how I think he wanted. "What are you doing!?" He answered, "You have to put something of yourself into your work."
So Jesus did. He put something of Himself into His work; was born and became one of us. Did you know that the human body is about 60 % water? Jesus joined our 60 % water human race. And then at the right time He walked that 60 % water human body down to the Jordan River and was baptized by John. John reacted exactly how Jesus knew he would. "What are you doing!?" And Jesus said, " ... to fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3:15) He did not need any additional righteousness. His was perfect. But don't you know, "You have to put something of yourself into your work."
Luther called it sanctifying "all waters to be a blessed flood ... a lavish washing away of sin." And Paul said it was "so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21) My soul redeemed and my body raised, transformed and glorious will be Jesus' own victory that He celebrates on the day when He returns and fulfills the prophecy, "He will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)
Lord Jesus, thank You for this "wet Word," this thing called Baptism. Thank You that You put Yourself into our human race, to put Your own holiness into us. Thank You for dousing and soaking me with Your Words and Promises, and putting Your name into my ears and into my soul. Remind me day by day of the promises, and how Your promises call and guide me through these days to the day when I will hear You celebrating Your victory in my salvation. Amen.