Lesson Thirty TWO


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Memory Verse: Mark 16:16
Further Study: Matthew 3, Desire of Ages, 84-92, 109-113; The Bible Story, vol. 7, pp. 85-108

A young member of our congregation wrote to me this week asking if I would do Bible studies with her to prepare her for baptism. What a privilege! After responding that I’d actually never given anyone Bible studies, but would love the opportunity to study with her, I told her that I believed baptism to be two things. First, an acknowledgment of repentance, forgiveness, and salvation through recognizing Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. And second, an acceptance of the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church since baptism is the rite that offers membership into this worldwide movement. But as I studied the story for this week, I realized that I completely missed a very important third reason. Maybe we all have. Let’s review the story.

Word spreads around Judea of a fiery preacher calling for repentance and baptism.

Word spreads around Judea of a fiery preacher calling for repentance and baptism. Many begin to make the journey out to the desert to listen including one young Carpenter from Nazareth. Saying goodbye to His mother, Jesus sets out to where John is preaching. When He arrives, He approaches John requesting baptism. John, who knew Someone was coming, when he met Him shrank from the task. Clearly, this Man needed no baptism for He had not sinned. In fact, John suggested that the request be switched—You should baptize me! But Jesus insists, and John takes Him down into the water and baptizes Him.

Here’s where the artists and illustrators have caused us to miss the third reason. The picture they paint is of Jesus coming up from the water, with John in the background, a dove coming down from heaven to rest just above His head, and a voice affirming Jesus as God’s Son. While this is almost accurate, it misses a crucial piece of information found in Luke 3:21. 

Jesus comes up from the water, and walks to the shore where He then falls down to pray. It is in answer to His prayer that the heavens open up and a dove-like form descends, and the Voice is heard. The prayer on the riverbank is what we’ve missed. Ellen White reveals what Jesus was praying:

“The Saviour’s glance seems to penetrate heaven as He pours out His soul in prayer. Well He knows how sin has hardened the hearts of men, and how difficult it will be for them to discern His mission, and accept the gift of salvation. He pleads with the Father for power to overcome their unbelief, to break the fetters with which Satan has enthralled them, and in their behalf to conquer the destroyer. He asks for the witness that God accepts humanity in the person of His Son” (The Desire of Ages, p. 111).

We have all witnessed baptisms where the individual comes up out of the water with a joyful face.

We have all witnessed baptisms where the individual comes up out of the water with a joyful face. And well, they should. It is a momentous day to celebrate a decision for Christ. When Jesus came up out of the water that day, it was a turning point for Him. He was accepting His call as Savior. He was thinking about me that day. He was praying for you. He was pleading for those to accept the gift He was to offer. God, Himself, answered that prayer in the form of a dove and with His own voice.

The third reason for baptism is to accept the call. I write each week of renewal found in any number of ways as we follow Jesus. But this is renewal in its ultimate form. In baptism we agree to accept salvation. We join a worldwide movement of believers. And, most importantly, we accept the call to serve others, to share what we believe, to let them know they too may be renewed.

Digging Deeper 

There are a few places in the Bible where the Trinity—all three members of the Godhead—are present. Jesus’ baptism is one of them. Jesus, of course, is being baptized. God, the Father speaks. The Holy Spirit comes in the form of a dove.

Two others where we see the Godhead are:

  1. At Creation, where Jesus is the Creator. The Spirit hovers over the waters of the earth. And God, the Father, oversees and is part of the plan.
  2. At the first Advent: The Father gave His Son; the Spirit hovers over Mary; and the Child is Jesus.

Making it Real

Have you been baptized? If not, this week is a wonderful week to contemplate choosing Jesus. If you have already shown your testimony through baptism, review the vows you took that day. Contemplate the sacrifice of Jesus so that you can live eternally. Think of what it means to be part of the church that you have joined. Most importantly, pray a prayer similar to Jesus. Pray for others to know Him. Pray that Satan’s power will be broken and his hold on them be released. And lastly, pray for affirmation in your life of service, that God will make Himself known to you this week because of your renewed commitment to Him.



Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, born in 2023. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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