“Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.” John 4:1-3
I find the issue of baptism interesting. There are so many different views and theories about baptism. What is it, what is it not. I am not an expert on baptism, actually I do not think I am an expert on many things at all.
One of the things I have wrestled with is the question of: is baptism essential to go to heaven? To me Jesus is clear that baptism with the Holy Spirit is essential but not baptism as we think of it in a bath tub, lake or ocean. For people that come to faith on there death bed do not get baptized in a bathtub or lake. Does this mean they do not go to heaven? No. As Jesus hung on the cross the man next to him came to faith. He was never baptized.
So if baptism as we think of it in front of family and friends is not essential to be saved by faith why do we do it? More importantly why does Jesus say we should do it and also go around baptism people?
There are few things more powerful to our human minds than symbols and imagery. Does baptism in a lake save you? No. We are saved by faith in Jesus. But it is a public declaration to yourself and others that you have willingly made your choice. It is a public declaration to a group of people that you plan to walk with Jesus, follow him and work to leave your sinful life behind.
Jesus does not need us to be dipped in water in front of a group of people to save us. But we humans often do need this experience. It may be a symbol but there are fewer more powerful things in this world than a symbol. If you are not willing to make the commitment to be baptized with family and friends then you are telling Jesus I am not willing to publicly claim you. How is that faith?