Dunked! by Randy Rowley 7/23/15 ©


Early on a Saturday afternoon in late August, my wife, Chris, my youngest daughter, Deanna, Tim Price, and me launched Tim’s V-hull aluminum boat at the public boat ramp at the Port Aransas Municipal Boat Harbor.  We proceeded to Aransas Bay and started to fish with live shrimp.  We mainly were catching hardheads, so we decided to try fishing by Mud Island.  Tim turned his boat into the two-foot-tall waves but couldn’t get on plane.  He then reached deeper water and turned towards the island.

Suddenly a wave crashed over the bow (the forward part of the boat), swamping the front of the boat.  Tim put his boat’s gear shifter in neutral, but that didn’t help.  He then put the gear shifter in full forward power and tried to steer into the waves, but that made his boat’s bow dive under the water like a submarine!  His boat rolled to the right in the blink of an eye, and we capsized!

Tim climbed on top of the hull and waved down a nearby bay boat while the rest of us clung to Tim’s boat’s side.  Our rescuers towed us to shallow water, which enabled us to right Tim’s boat and bail it out.  Tim couldn’t get his motor to start, so they ferried us and towed Tim’s boat back to Port Aransas.

The Lord blessed us – none of us were hurt or had swallowed any saltwater.  We were no worse for wear aside from a couple of broken casting rods, a spotlight fried by the saltwater, and losing my keys (but we had spare keys in Chris’s purse).

Later that evening, we tried to figure out what caused our dunking.  We concluded we weren’t overloaded as we had four big men in Tim’s boat during the FCS coastal duck hunt eight months earlier, and we had a lighter load on this trip.

Shortly after returning home, Tim found a lot of fishing line underneath his propeller and wrapped around his propeller shaft, which explained why he couldn’t get his boat on plane.  It probably also contributed to his boat capsizing.  Fortunately, after removing the fishing line, Tim was able to start his motor.

Did you know the Bible talks about being dunked?  However, instead of being in a boat and capsizing, it’s a personal dunking the Bible calls baptism.  The primary meaning is “to dip, plunge, or immerse.”  It’s often done in a pool of water, either a manufactured or natural one.

The three primary reasons to get baptized are:

  • To follow Jesus’s example.
  • To publicly proclaim again, after your profession of faith, Jesus is your Savior and the Lord of your life.
  • To obey him.

I didn’t include baptism as part of what a sinner must do to receive God’s salvation because it’s not.  If it were required, then the repentant thief crucified next to Jesus wouldn’t have been able to be with him in paradise after he died later that day, as only a miracle would’ve allowed him to get off his cross to be baptized (see Luke 23:39-43).

Regarding following Jesus’s example, Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan River marked the beginning of his public ministry.  It was recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and the Gospel of John referred to it.  Mark 1:9-11 (NLT) says, “One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River.  As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.’”

Jesus’s baptism often perplexes people. Acts 3:19 (NLT) says, “Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins” and 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  Baptism symbolizes that a person has repented (turned from the direction they were heading and turned to God) and confessed their sin to God.  1 Peter 2:22 (NLT) says, “He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.”  As Jesus had no sin to turn from or confess, why was he baptized?

Matthew 3:13-15 (NLT) provides the answer.  It says, “Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.  But John tried to talk him out of it.  “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”  But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”  So John agreed to baptize him.”

Jesus’s baptism proclaimed he had broken from his previous life – he had died to the old natural relationships with his family and neighbors and his earthly purposes to be a son, brother, etc., and was devoting himself from that day forward to his public ministry.

The account of the Philippian jailer is a great example of why we should be baptized.  In Acts 16:25-33, Paul and Silas had cast a spirit out of a woman who could tell people their fortunes.  The woman’s owners became incensed because their income stream had vanished, so they had Paul and Silas taken before the authorities, who had them beaten and thrown into prison.  They also ordered the jailer to ensure Paul and Silas didn’t escape.  So he put them in the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in stocks.

Around midnight, as Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns while the other prisoners listened, suddenly a massive earthquake shook the prison, causing its doors to fly open and every prisoner’s chains to fall off.  The jailer woke up and saw the open prison doors.  He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself.  Then Paul shouted at him not to commit suicide because they were all still there.

The jailer called for lights, rushed to the dungeon, and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked in Acts 16:30b, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  Acts 16:31 says, “They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’”  Then Paul and Silas shared about Jesus to the jailer and all who lived in his household.  Even though the hour was late, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds.  Then immediately, he and everyone in his household were baptized.

The jailer acted in the proper sequence – he was saved first and then was baptized.  Baptism without first believing, repenting, and confessing our sin to God is just a bath.

Regarding being baptized as an act of obedience, Jesus gave his disciples the mission to baptize new disciples in Matthew 28:19-20.  He said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

By being baptized, we testify publicly that:

  • We believe in the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
  • We have turned from our old lives and become new creations in Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
  • We have joined the family of God.

When we are baptized, we visually preach the gospel without saying a word.  When we stand in the water waiting to be baptized, we symbolize Jesus’s death on the cross.  When we are lowered into the water, we symbolize Jesus’s burial.  When we are raised from the water, we symbolize Jesus’s resurrection.  Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  When we are baptized, we say nonverbally, “I was crucified with Christ, my sins were buried with him, and now I am raised with Christ to a brand-new life.”

When Tim’s boat suddenly became a submarine on that hot August afternoon, we had no say in being dunked.  But each Christian can choose whether to follow Christ in believer’s baptism.  I urge you to make the right choice.

Categories : Devotionals

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