Had an interesting conversation last night with our Tuesday Night Group about baptism. We went around and shared our stories of when & why we were baptized. The consensus of the group seemed to be that while it isn't necessary for salvation, baptism does mark a certain maturity in Christ. I don't know if I agree with this or not. I suppose I would say that it probably more marks a maturity in the Church instead of Christ. I question the necessity. Yes, Jesus did it, yes the apostles did it. Jesus even commands at the end of Matthew--to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But is that to replace the baptizing by water that the Jews routinely did for purification? So Jesus is letting them know that instead of baptizing with water to purify yourself--now you may baptize with water in the name of God for once and for all. And did this make more sense to the Jews because of their history and their culture. As an analogy?
I also brought up that Jesus was baptized by John and while some think that this is the only time Jesus was baptized, I would disagree. Being a Jew, he would have been required by the law to "wash" to purify himself numerous times over the course of his life. In Matthew 3 when Jesus goes to John to be baptized, John was not doing the type of baptism we were thinking--or at least that's my understanding--he was doing the routine baptisms that all Jews must go through.