Throughout my 30+ years of ministry, I have had the privilege of immersing people into Christ and witnessing many others die to self and sin, be buried with Christ, and rise as a new person in Christ (Rom 6:3-6 / Gal 3:26-27). I have also collected stories about interesting things that happened during baptisms.
One preacher told of trying to immerse a Division I Offensive Lineman who was afraid of the water. He could not get the young man to relax enough to put him under the usual way. After a few failed attempts, he had the young man sit on the baptistery steps and calm down. Once the man was relaxed and apologizing for his fear the preacher pushed him off the steps and the convert fell in over his head. He came up quickly, slinging water, and exclaimed, “You got me, Preacher! You got me!”
The following account is of a baptism occurred in a pioneer Texas community aver 100 years ago. A traveling evangelist was holding an extended Gospel Meeting and many were obeying the gospel each night as they heard the truth proclaimed with passion. A few miscreants decided they needed to disrupt the meeting. They offered the town clown a side of ham and a bushel of corn if he would respond to the invitation on a certain night of the meeting and when he was baptized to come out of the water cursing. Some of the church folks caught word of the ruse and warned the preacher. He calmed their anxiety and said he would handle it.
On the given night the man did come forward with several others who were sincere. The congregation made their way from the tent meeting to a nearby creek that was deep enough to immerse the new believers. The minister baptized all the genuinely repentant in a meaningful way. After the last of the legitimately obedient were immersed, he called the miscreant’s stooge. They were delighted and waited with anticipation for the man to come up cursing and embarrass the visiting evangelist. But holding the man firmly in is arms, the preacher loudly proclaimed, “For a side of ham and bushel of corn, I dunk one of the most worthless characters that ever was born.” Then he pushed him under the water and held him there a little longer than usual, when he finally let the man up, the man gasp for air and hurriedly left the scene with his co-conspirators. The preacher spoke to the still gathered, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceits.” (Prov 26:5).
Maybe these stories have provided a chuckle of laugh today. Even though these events and others I have heard or witnessed are funny, baptism is a serious matter. The truth is that our eternity rests on our decision to or to not give our life over to God in Christ. The Apostle Paul teaches in the passages linked in the first paragraph that we give our life to God and are placed in Christ when by faith we die to our worldly self, have that dead person buried, and rise as a new person. In simplicity we obey the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ that is the good news – the gospel. (1Cor 15:1-5).