Called to Follow Jesus

[18] While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. [19] And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:18–19)

It is a question that especially arises in confirmation classes, whether Junior confirmation or adult instruction: Do we as Lutherans lose something by practicing infant baptism, as opposed to following Jesus’ practice in calling disciples as adults? In light of our Bible passage, the question makes sense. 

Pastors can quickly answer that Jesus himself commanded baptism, so the issue is moot. While this is true, it doesn’t answer the question: Are we losing something? 

In baptism God not only brings a person to faith but calls the new believer to respond to the faith. In other words, to “follow” Jesus. That’s why the rite of baptism both affirms God’s promises and speaks of the baptismal candidate receiving instruction in the Christian faith. 

This is important because it makes confirmation our closest parallel experience to Jesus’ calling His first disciples. Confirmation both affirms our baptisms and teaches us how to respond to the gift of faith. 

I personally see each morning as a fresh call from Jesus to follow Him. Martin Luther’s Morning Prayer begins, “I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger…” Once we acknowledge that God protected us through the night, our response is rightly to commit ourselves to godly living that day. 

The answer to the question is, no, we don’t lose anything by practicing infant baptism. Instead, we gain because we are then raised in the faith. The patterns of receiving God’s gifts, then responding to this grace, are learned from the earliest age. While it’s hard to imagine, in this way we are blessed in ways beyond even Jesus’ earliest disciples. 

(A Second Look devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District LCMS.)

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