What does it actually mean to be a Christian? This series explores that question by walking through the life and ministry of Jesus, beginning with his baptism.
The good news about Jesus starts with his baptism and entry into ministry.
Mark 1:1-11 NRSV
 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;  the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.  And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
- John the Baptist was sort of like the final “Old Testament” prophet announcing that the Messiah was coming.
- John took the common practice of baptizing and gave it a specific meaning – that those baptized had repented of their sins.
- John clarified that his baptism in water was nothing compared with the fire with which Jesus would be baptizing his followers.
- Baptizing Jesus was a BIG deal for John because John knew that Jesus had no sin for which he needed to repent. This was about something else…
- Jesus was asking John to baptize him as an initiation into his ministry as Messiah, Redeemer, Savior, and King.
Jesus’ baptism was a public announcement of his ministry as God’s Messiah.
Yes, baptism for us is a way of following Jesus’ example, and it’s a way of expressing our repentance over sin, but it also means something else…
When we follow Jesus – which we publicly announce with our baptism, we are entering into a whole new life!
Romans 6:3-4 NRSV
 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
“Being a Christian” means…
- Publicly identifying with the death of Christ on the cross.
- Publicly proclaiming my belief that Jesus rose from the dead.
- Publicly committing to live the rest of our lives as his followers.
And what does that life look like? Lots of things…
- Walking in fellowship with him.
- Caring about the things Jesus cares about.
- Following his teachings.
- Following his example.
- Becoming love to the world around us.
- Allowing him to shape me into his likeness in my character.
- Sharing the good news with others.
- Serving others.
And the decision to follow Jesus and to become a Christian is something every individual is invited to freely make on their own.
Are you ready to start?