Buried with Christ
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. – Colossians 2:11-12
As we continue to dive deeper into a biblical understanding of baptism, these verses from Colossians can be especially helpful in helping us understand the importance of Baptism as a sacrament. A sacrament is understood to be “a ceremony or act of the Christian Church that is regarded as an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual divine grace.”
In reading today’s passage, baptism is compared closely with circumcision. It specifically speaks of it as being a circumcision not performed by human hands. Instead, it is a spiritual circumcision that Christ has performed. In the Old Testament, circumcision was the sign of the covenant God had with Abraham. It was a physical representation that set Abraham and his descendants apart from the world around them. In a very similar way, our baptism is a physical representation and experience of the new covenant and unity we have with Christ and His Body. Our baptism sets us apart, to Christ, from the world in which we live.
So this spiritual circumcision we have through our baptism took place when our entire selves were “put off.” Christ, in joining to us, has given us His righteousness, putting off our old selves, and causing Him to be the one living in us. So as we think of baptism as a sacrament, an act that is an outward sign of an inward and spiritual grace, we see that it is indeed an outward and physical joining in the person of Christ which directly flows out of the inward salvation we have been given.
Looking again at these verses from Colossians, we see that in our baptism, we are buried with Christ, sharing in all that He is because of the new covenant which joins us to Him. In addition, we also partake in his rising from the dead when we are baptized. Yet, we are not raised with him because there is something holy or mystic in the water that forever bonds us to Jesus like super glue. We are raised with him because of our faith in the workings of God, who raised Christ, and therefore us, from the dead.
How much more beautiful is the sacrament and gift of baptism in light of this passage from Colossians? As our old selves are cast off through our spiritual circumcision by Christ, we are joined eternally to him, sharing with him in all that he has done, and specifically, through our baptism, in his sacrificial death and glorious resurrection.