How exhilarating to watch a slam dunk maneuver during an intense basketball game! The outstretched arm of a player jumping in midair and stuffing the ball into the basket brings instant shouts of celebration and cheering as the crowd goes wild, and another two points register on the scoreboard.
Dunking takes on a humorous twist at fairs or bazaars when a volunteer sits above a dunk tank and waits for a ball to strike a target that collapses his seat and dunks him in a tank of water below. Once again, dunking is a crowd-pleaser that yields shouts of laughter and cheer. Something about dunking makes us happy--happy enough to shout and celebrate.
Many signs, wonders, and miracles were happening and recorded in the Book of Acts. The Holy Spirit was moving mightily among crowds of people who were hungry for spiritual truth. The Apostle Peter instructed them in this way, in Acts 2:38 (NLT), as they sought spiritual guidance: "Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
“Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Churches have different views on what that means, but the Greek meaning of “baptized,” or baptizo, according to Strong’s Greek/Hebrew Definitions, is “to immerse, submerge; to make overwhelmed (i.e., fully wet).” The word is used only in the New Testament regarding ceremonial washing, especially in the ordinance of Christian baptism.
Being immersed in the waters of baptism is exhilarating. I was sprinkled as an infant in my family's church. I have no recollection of that experience, however, I know my parents were fully honoring God in their hearts in having me baptized according to church practice. As a young adult, when my need for Christ became desperate, I wanted to experience a water baptism of immersion, where symbolically I would be “dunked” into the waters of baptism, leaving the old sinful nature behind me in those waters, and brought out of the water into a newness of life in Christ. Symbolically, we bury our old sinful nature and rise out of the water into our new spiritual man.
Even Jesus did that. Matthew 3:13-17 records the baptism of Jesus as follows: 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. After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy."
A slam dunk for Jesus into the waters of baptism, right in front of a crowd of people at the Jordan River! And Who was there to rejoice and celebrate? The Lord God Almighty, Himself cheered from Heaven, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy!”
There’s just something about dunking that makes us happy. When we get dunked in the waters of baptism, the Father is happy. If you haven’t been baptizo-d—immersed, submerged, made fully wet--do it! God will be cheering!
© 2023, Chris Custer Werre