Scores of people from virtually every nation on earth make the journey by land, sea, and air to come to the United States, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” The day in American history, marked by the signing of the Declaration of Independence during the Revolutionary War with Britain, is considered the birthday of America. “Independence Day” symbolizes not merely a day, but a way of life and the blessings of living in a free nation.
Mark’s gospel begins with the life of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. In the passage, Mark tells about the many people from Jerusalem and all the land of Judah who came to be baptized by him. This immersion, though not the one to which all believers must submit today for salvation (cf. Mark 16:16), was an important precursor to Jesus’ earthly ministry. Apollos (Acts 18:25) and certain men of Ephesus (Acts 19:1ff) were among those even in the Christian age who had previously undergone it. The baptism bears a remarkable resemblance to the water baptism of the Great Commission. It was a baptism involving repentance (Mark 1:4), as is baptism under Christ’s covenant (Acts 2:38). It was a baptism resulting in the remission of sins (Mark 1:4), as is baptism into Christ today (Acts 2:38). It was a baptism done in much water (Mark 1:5; cf. John 3:23). So it is with baptism into Christ (Acts 8:38-39; Romans 6:3-4). It was a baptism properly submitted to only by those understanding its importance in light of their sin problem (Mark 1:5). So it is with baptism into Christ (Acts 22:16).
Both the baptism of John and the baptism of the Great Commission share this, too. Both brought freedom and independence from sin, each in its proper dispensation. Freedom to vote, own property, and pursue happiness are wonderful, but nothing compares to the Independence Day we celebrate when we are baptized into Christ.