“Down, dooown. UP!”
I didn’t realize just how closely my three-year-old had been paying attention when the young woman waded into the shallow end of the swimming pool.
My son had already witnessed many baptisms in the past, but this time it was different. The lady going under the water was his favorite babysitter.
Just before she was baptized, Bethany had stood on the platform next to the pool with a microphone in her hand. In front of everyone who had gathered there, she shared her testimony of how God saved her. Bethany had been faithfully discipled by her Christian parents. The church had always been a huge part of her life. When she was a young teenager, Bethany began to understand more fully that she was a sinner, and that her sin separated her from our holy God. God then brought about multiple painful circumstances in her life that showed her that she needed Jesus to be her hiding place, and that salvation could only come through him. Transfixed, my young children sat at the edge of the pool and listened to Bethany share her story.
After the two elders (one of whom was her dad) brought her up out of the water, people in the crowd clapped and cheered. I heard my little boy exhale loudly, “Wow!” I think his response to what he had seen was right on point. When we as adults think about baptism and the spiritual reality that it represents, we are overwhelmed with the wonder of it all. But what is the best way to explain baptism to a child? How do we help them understand what it means and why we do it?
Baptism Talking Points for Moms
Teaching children about the Lord is so exciting! There are lots of great places to start when explaining baptism to a child. A key text about baptism is Romans 6:4-5. Read this passage to your kids, teach it to them, and have ongoing conversations about these important concepts:
“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:4-5, ESV
Here are a few talking points that you can use to start conversations with your kids about baptism:
Baptism is about identification.
When a believer is baptized, they publicly identify with Jesus and with other Christians. To “identify” with someone is to say that you are with that person; you belong together. You identify with your mom and dad; you belong together.
Baptism is a symbol.
It’s a physical picture of a spiritual reality. You see symbols all the time. The red mark on the faucet in the sink symbolizes hot water. The blue mark represents cold. When you see the dial turned to the red mark, you know that the water coming out of the faucet is hot. Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ and his church. When you see someone being baptized, you’re watching a moving picture of what has happened to that person spiritually.
Baptism is a picture of our death.
The person being baptized goes under the water, which is a picture of the burial of their old self that was enslaved to sin. We are as dead to our sin as Jesus was dead on the cross. Jesus really died on the cross, and they buried him. When we put our trust in Christ to save us, God’s Word assures us that we really died to our sin and our old self was buried along with Jesus.
Baptism is a picture of our resurrection.
The person being baptized is brought up out of the water, which is a picture of their soul being raised from the dead to eternal life. Being brought up out of the water is also a forward-looking picture. It reminds us of God’s promise to one day resurrect our physical bodies from the grave just like he did for Jesus.
When we place our faith in Jesus, we are united with him in his death and resurrection. When explaining baptism to a child, tell them that baptism is like an Easter play, replaying what happened to Jesus on Easter weekend in His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Even though we are walking the earth over two thousand years after that Easter weekend, when we place our faith in Jesus, we are spiritually right there with him on the cross, in the grave, and walking out of the tomb in newness of life.
Baptism reminds all of us big kids, too, that we are to respond to Jesus childlike wonder and faith every day. Because of what Jesus has done, we can walk in the newness of life in him forever. We can be about what we’re going to be about thirty trillion years from now— seeing and savoring him.
Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four, cross-cultural worker, and writer. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, The Pastor’s Wife, and Missional Motherhood. www.gloriafurman.com