I remember hearing some years ago that, in Roman times, when a slave was bought by a new master, they would have to walk through a pool of water from their old master to the one who had purchased them as a sign of their change of ownership.
I don’t know how accurate this is, but what a lovely picture of believers’ baptism as a declaration of our allegiance to our new Master, Christ Jesus.
We are all born into slavery to sin and death, except Christ alone whose birth, as a man, we will be celebrating in a few week’s time. He, though perfect in every way, paid the price for our release and took the consequences of our disobedience when, on the cross, He experienced the separation from God that we deserve.
The change of ownership takes place when we acknowledge Him as our Lord and accept that He alone can please God and cover over all our failures.
Baptism, then, is an outward symbol of what has already taken place in the lives of those who have taken this step in faith and choose no longer to please themselves, but to honour God; those who, in the words of Romans 6:11 count themselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” in order to live a new life in Him.
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body”
1 Corinthians 6:19,20