Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist was the first Jew to use baptism to symbolise the forgiveness of sins. He baptised Jesus, and baptism remains important for Christians. This is because after his resurrection, Jesus told his followers that they too should be baptised:
No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.John 3:5
Some Christians baptise babies as soon as possible after they are born. This is known as infant baptism. Some Christians believe that Heaven can only be entered by those who are baptised. For these Christians, it is important to baptise babies as quickly as possible.
For Orthodox Christians, infant baptism involves total immersion. In other denominations, priests use holy oil to make the sign of the cross on the baby’s head before sprinkling the baby with holy water. The priest repeats Jesus’ instruction to
baptise … in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
There are other elements to a baptism service. For example, godparents promise to reject evil on behalf of the child. At the end of the ceremony, the priest gives the child’s guardians a lit candle, which symbolises receiving the light of Christ.
How can someone be born when they are old?. Jesus replies,
You must be born again (John 3:4, 7). This shows that baptism (being “born again”) was practised on adults (people who are “old”), rather than infants.
Believers’ baptism involves total immersion, where the person being baptised walks into a special pool and is fully submerged three times before walking out into their new life.
What does baptism do?
Baptism cleanses a person of Original Sin and makes them fully part of the Christian community.