Today’s reading tells the story of Paul finding some men in Ephesus who claimed to have been baptized by John the Baptist but had not heard of the Holy Spirit. The story then indicates that Paul baptizes these men “into the name of the Lord Jesus” and after Paul touched them “the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”
As far as I know, this is the only place in the Bible where someone was “rebaptized”. But why did Paul do it? I think to answer this question we must first remember John’s ministry. One of the best verses to do this, I feel, is Matthew 3:11, “"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” John’s baptism was one of repentance. Repentance is the beginning of a spiritual process. Baptism is an “outward” sign of commitment. Like all sacraments, to be effective, it has to be accompanied by an “inward” change of attitude leading to a changed life. John’s baptism did not give salvation; it prepared a person to welcome the coming Messiah and receive his message and his baptism.
I do not know if you know this, but the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer contains a section in the back called the Catechism. I commend this to you as a great resource. The Catechism is laid out in a question and answer format. A topic that is extremely pertinent to today’s reading is, of course, Holy Baptism. The Catechism states,
What is the inward and spiritual grace in Baptism?
The inward and spiritual grace in Baptism is union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God's family the Church, forgiveness of sins, and new life in the Holy Spirit.
What is required of us at Baptism?
It is required that we renounce Satan, repent of our sins, and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
At first glance today’s reading seems like a nice story but not very relevant. However, I feel it calls all of us to reexamine how we are doing in our spiritual journey to change our life to follow Christ. I know that if I do not intentionally examine this aspect of my life, I can quickly get off course. How are you doing?
Wishing you the best in your walk with Christ,