In His conversation with Nicodemus in John, chapter 3, Jesus revealed to him what one must do to attain Heaven. His first of two elements was this interesting term: “born of water.” (3:5) The reference to water immediately leads us to Baptism. However, I don’t believe we (church catechists) are effectively catechizing our students well in this area.
The Pauline scriptures are clear that baptism not only refers to Jesus’ baptism in Luke, chapter 3, but more importantly the other (REAL) baptism that Jesus refers to in Luke 12:50.
“There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” (NABre)
Our Lord is no longer talking about the waters of the Jordan that he sanctified so that disciples could follow him into that rite. He is now speaking of the baptism of his death on the cross. When Jesus willingly went to the cross, he gave everything for us, holding nothing back.
His invitation to us is to enter into a nuptial relationship where we get married to Him. Like the Sacrament of Marriage, where the two spouses willingly give themselves completely in marriage, we, too, must make that commitment to Christ.
St. Paul put it this way in Romans 6:3.
“Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?” (NABre)
Our decision to be baptized or to ratify our infant Baptism is a decision to die to our life and now live a new life with Christ.
“…I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Phil. 3:8 (NABre)
The Parable of the Vine and the Branches of John Chapter 15 help us gain an even better understanding of what this looks like. Our birth in water or Baptism is like pulling a branch off a vine. Once the branch is severed from the vine, it’s days are numbered before it dies, unless it is grafted onto another vine.
To die in the waters is to cease to look to or get from the world what we need for life, thus freeing us to be grafted onto Jesus so that we may now grow in Him. This cannot be done unless we break free from the world and all of its allurements.
Have you been born of water?