Usually we don’t spend a lot of time washing, bathing, or taking a shower. It’s part of getting ready for our busy day. However, in ancient times around the Mediterranean, Europe and the Middle East, bathing meant going to a communal bath. Perhaps it is akin to going to the pool or the beach. It involves changing clothes, gathering towels and putting on sunscreen and even taking a quick shower before and after.
Think of bathing a baby immediately after birth. Then read John 3:5 “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God,” or Titus 3: 5-7, “He saved us…by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ.”
Before we turned over the preparation of a deceased person to the funeral home, it was common for a member of the family or the community to bathe the body and dress it for the funeral. Paul writes in Romans 6:3, “Or are you unaware that we who have been baptized (bathed) into Christ Jesus were baptized (bathed) into his death. We were indeed buried with him through baptism (bathing) into his death…”
In Ephesians 5, Paul is also thinking of baptism and the bride’s preparation for marriage in verse 26, “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor without blemish.”
The cultural practices in the Roman world of birth, death and marriage were accompanied by arraying the body in clean, new or otherwise special clothing in connection with the bath itself. Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ has put on Christ.”
No matter what we may be wearing on our body as this very time, Christians are dressed in Christ at baptism and wear him as a festal garment, pure and clean for eternity.