It was a beautiful morning for a baptism. The sun was shining down upon the river Jordan, producing shimmering waves of light. The beach was practically deserted, except for one couple who lay quietly taking in the sun. Peter and the others were already there praying a few feet away from the couple when Barabbas and his family arrived. Peter had picked the spot within hearing distance of the couple, hoping that their activities might serve as a witness and possible means of reaching the couple.
As Barabbas and his family walked through the sand toward the water, they heard the baying of horses behind them. Turning around they saw the strange looking black and white chariot pull up to one of the hitching posts along the beach road. Manaheem and Claressa dismounted and began walking toward the water as well.
When everyone was there, Peter asked, "Well, is everyone ready?"
"Ready as we'll ever be." chimed in Manaheem.
Peter looked at Barabbas. "Have you decided what your new name will be?"
"Well, no, not really. I thought of a few possibilities but none of them seemed to fit."
"Well," offered John, the name 'Barabbas' means son of shame or confusion. How about something similar but with a positive implication?"
Peter thought for a moment. "Ah, yes, what about Bar-nabas--son of consolation or comfort. I’ve noticed that you do have a very calming, comforting way about you."
“I think it's perfect" agreed John.
"Barnabas--yes, I like it." agreed Barabbas.
"Then," noted Peter, "Barnabas it is."
"Well, then, shall we begin?" urged John, and they all moved closer to the water.
Despite the shimmering sunlight, the water was still a bit cold. But no one seemed to mind the coldness. Barabbas was the first to enter the water. Peter asked, "Have you trusted in Jesus and his death on the cross for your eternal salvation?"
Barabbas was a little taken aback. "You know that I have" he answered.
“I know," said Peter, "But I have to ask these questions prior to baptizing you. So to continue, do you give yourself to follow Him all the days of your life?"
Again the answer came “I do."
"Then, upon the confession of your faith, I now baptize you, Barabbas and re-name you, Barnabas, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
It was a truly refreshing feeling. He felt like a completely new and different person. Peter held out his hands to the rest and asked, "Anybody else want to change your name?"
"O' ken I change my name too Daddy?" asked Caleb.
"Now what on earth would you want to change your name for? Caleb's a good name. And anyway, we have enough trouble keeping you kids straight without changin' yer names. No, you just stick t' th names we gave y'."
The rest of the family were baptized. Then it was the turn of Manaheem and Claressa. The same basic questions were asked and answered in the affirmative and the couple was baptized as well. Then, when they had come out of the water, Peter, standing next to Manaheem and Claressa, announced: "We have yet another ceremony to perform. This young couple was married and then divorced and they now want to be re-married. So, in the sight of God and these witnesses, I ask, do you Manaheem take Claressa to be your wife to have and to hold from this day forward, in sickness and in health, to cleave to her, forsaking all others, as long as you both shall live?"
He answered, “I certainly do."
"And do you Claressa take Manaheem to be your husband, to have and to hold from this day forward n sickness and in health, to cleave to him, forsaking all others, as long as you both shall live?"
“I surely do," she answered.
"Then, by the power invested in me as an apostle of Jesus and leader of His Church, I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss the bride." Though wet, their lips met.
The other couple, who had been silently watching while seated on the sand, just as silently got up and walked away. Peter breathed a prayer for their salvation.
"What's really great?" asked Manaheem.
"O' yes, of course," replied Manaheem, "Even though it doesn't really change anything--I mean we had already committed to being His followers. But it sort-of sealed the deal."
"Exactly," chimed in Peter. "That's what Baptism is meant to be. It's not meant to save you. You're saved when you trust in Jesus. But baptism seals your commitment to Him and your relationship with Him."
"Just like our marriage," added Manaheem. We were already committed to each other, but the marriage sealed it. Now we can stand unashamed before a critical world."
The newly named Barnabas smiled. "And in my case, I’m an entirely new man, with even a new name."
Deborah sighed. "Well, I hope I remember to call you by your new name. You've been Barabbas as long as I knew you."
He smiled. "Well, I won't fault you if you forget now and then. But do try to remember when we're out in the public."
"I’ll try." She sighed again. Well, Barnabas, let's get out of these wet clothes, shall we?"
"Yes," he answered, "let's go home and change. Then, I want to pay a visit to the family of the man whom my former self killed. Perhaps I can explain to his wife that I’m a different man now and beg her forgiveness."
She smiled. "That's a good idea, Barabb--I mean Barnabas. I’ll go along."
"Yes, perhaps between the two of us, we can bring some measure of comfort to the poor lady and her children."
Peter smiled broadly. “I see that you are already living up to your new name. May God go with you, Barnabas, friend."
"Pray that she will receive us peacefully."
"We will be praying for you."
"First let's go and change, shall we?"
“I can give you a ride home," offered Manaheem.
"That's very kind of you. But can we all fit in your chariot?"
“I think if we all squeeze together, we can make it."
They did all fit, but barely, and their wet clothes made a swishing sound as the water dripped onto the floor of the chariot. Yet the blistering sun soon began to dry them.
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