There was a Jewish sect at the time of Jesus who called themselves the Essenes. One of their beliefs was that they should baptize themselves (perform a ritual cleansing) several times a day. John the Baptist, who is believed to have been a member of the Essenes, called his hearers to be baptized but only once. Peter repeats the exhortation of John that the people should repent and be baptized.
Ninety year-old Henry James had been raised in the church and had been baptized as an infant. He had attended Sunday school and had been an active member of the congregation’s youth group. At one retreat which he attended, the speaker had encourage the teenagers to “walk wet.” The speaker had told his young audience that “walking wet” meant remembering that they had been baptized. God had cleansed them, given them new life, adopted them as God’s children and filled them with the Holy Spirit. Responding to what God had done, the speaker encouraged them to daily commit themselves to living as children of God who had been filled with the Holy Spirit so that they could serve others and share the gospel. Henry never forgot the words of the speaker. Every day for the last seventy-five years he has daily chosen to live as a child of God and committed himself to a life of love and service.
The people who responded to Peter’s message and were baptized didn’t go back home after their baptisms. They chose to live as children of God and as people who had been given new life. The author of Acts records that they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Our choice as disciples of Jesus is to live this day as children of God, people who serve God and neighbor in words and actions.
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.