In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, baptism is one of the most important things we do in our mortal lives. It symbolizes becoming clean and giving up our old lives to begin a new life as a follower of Christ.
But more than that, baptism indicates a promise that we make with God and that He makes with us (AKA a covenant), and that covenant directs our lives from that moment on. When we are baptized, we essentially tell God that we are willing to make efforts to follow Him for the rest of our lives.
Our covenant rests heavily on Christ. Without Christ, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to even make a covenant with God, so baptism would be utterly pointless. But because Christ lived a perfect life and sacrificed Himself for our freedom, we have the chance to build a partnership with God.
But after we make that covenant with God, how do we keep it? Well, Christ is our example in all things. So let’s take a look at some ways He kept His baptismal covenant to see how we can keep ours.
What Was Christ’s Baptismal Covenant?
The scriptures don’t spell out exactly what Christ’s baptismal covenant was with God, but we can compare it to pre-Christ baptisms for a reference. We can also compare it with our own modern baptismal covenants because the covenant we make during baptism hasn’t changed much throughout history.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explains the baptismal covenant simply:
A covenant with God to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end.Gospel Topic, Baptism
Notice that, though we covenant to take the name of Christ upon us, the covenant is made with God the Father, not with Jesus Christ Himself. So Christ still would have covenanted to keep the commandments and serve God the Father until the end.
And while us taking the name of Christ is different from how Christ took His name upon Himself, the rest of the covenant was essentially the same as the covenant we make – a covenant of obedience and service to God. Christ made this covenant, just like we have (or can), and that makes Him the perfect example of how to fulfill a baptismal covenant.
How Christ Kept His Baptismal Covenant During His Mortal Life
In the Book of Mormon, Alma (the former priest of King Noah) taught us that a baptized child of God will:
8 …[be] desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death…Mosiah 18:8-9
Because this is how we are asked to live as baptized members of God’s Church, these are the standards I will use to show how Christ kept His baptismal covenant.
Desirous to Come Into the Fold of God
God invites us constantly to come into His fold. It doesn’t matter if we’ve never been baptized or if we’ve been baptized for years – we are always invited to come into the fold. And our desire to return to the fold is always the first step that brings us closer to God.
Christ demonstrated His desire to be part of the fold of God by being baptized. He was perfect, so His baptism didn’t cleanse Him. But it made His desire to follow God clear and it established His covenant with God.
But His desire to come into the fold of God went further than just being baptized. Through His entire life, He invited people to come into the fold, building the fold up to God. Inviting others to join the fold of God shows a desire to be a part of it as well, and that’s true of both Christ and us. When we invite others to the fold of God, we’re telling them that the fold of God is desirable to us and that it can be for them too.
Of course, Christ’s role is more than just being part of the fold of God. He’s the leader of God’s people, second only to the Father. So desiring the fold of God then becomes, for us, a desire to follow Christ as well.
Bear One Another’s Burdens
Christ often helped bear other’s burdens. For a small example, let’s look at the feeding of the five thousand.
Christ had been teaching the people for a while when some of His disciples came to Him and told Him that the people gathered did not have food. Christ felt the burden of the people – to find food for themselves and their families – as well as the burden of His disciples – to care for those who had sacrificed their time to come and hear their Savior.
Recognizing these burdens, Christ asked for what little the people could give. The amount of food they had could never have fed five thousand, but after they gave what they could, Christ took the rest of the burden on Himself. He blessed the food, gave directions to pass the food to the people, and used His power to multiply the food far beyond its apparent capabilities.
While we may not be feeding five thousand people, we have the same opportunities to take the burdens of others. We can notice and serve our neighbor down the street who has put every effort into caring for their family and is about to break. We can care for an elderly friend or relative when they can’t anymore.
Anytime we see a person who has given everything they can only to find their efforts insufficient, we are seeing people who have burdens. And if we can step in to lift those burdens even for a moment, we will keep our covenant with God the way Christ did.
Mourn with Those that Mourn
This is probably the classic example of Christ mourning with those that mourn, but it’s still amazing. Not long before Christ was killed in Jerusalem, He visited His friends Mary and Martha in the town of Bethany. Their brother, Lazarus, had died a few days previously.
When Christ arrived, He knew He could bring Lazarus back to life. He understood the power of God. And yet, He still spent a few moments with Mary and Martha, crying with them and assuring them of God’s power. He mourned with them in the moments when their pain was overwhelming.
I love this example because it shows that, no matter what else is going on or what other information we might have, we can still meet those people who are mourning and mourn with them. Our perspectives, information, and schedule do not factor in when others are mourning.
Christ mourned with the mourners because He had promised to do so and because He truly loved those He met each and every day. You and I can or have promised to do the same thing, and it doesn’t matter who is mourning or why. We can still mourn with them, and doing so will fulfill our covenant.
Comfort Those in Need of Comfort
In the Americas, a few months after Christ had died and was resurrected, many people gathered together in the city called Bountiful, trying to rebuild their lives after extreme destruction had ravaged the land.
As they were gathered together, Christ appeared to them all. He spoke with them, embraced them, and prayed for them. In this time of pain, healing, and rebuilding, Christ came and comforted them. He assured them of their role in His church, in God’s fold. And He blessed the children, the afflicted, and every person who would hear Him.
Sometimes it’s hard to know how to help others around us. But we can do our best to comfort the people we meet. The best thing Christ did for these people was to show up with love. Doing so allowed Him to see their needs and comfort them in the ways they needed most. When we meet people with love, we are promised that the Holy Spirit will guide us the way Christ was led.
Stand as a Witness of God, Even Until Death
Christ always stood as a witness of His Father. In fact, our Father in Heaven was one of Christ’s favorite topics to teach about. But the most obvious example of Christ standing as a witness of God was the end of His life.
Christ knew His role in God’s plan, and it was the hardest role anyone on this earth has ever had to bear. He took all of our sins and paid the price for them. He experienced every single thing any of us has ever faced. And He was crucified despite being innocent.
He stood for God’s plan in every moment as His life drew to a close. Never did He change His mind. Never did He decide that we weren’t worth the effort. Never did He give up on His Father’s plan, power, and love.
When we are baptized, standing as a witness of God is one of the clearest and most significant promises we make to our Father in Heaven. We promise that we will testify of Him, teach of Him, and defend Him. And we promise to do that with love for God and for His children.
We may or may not have to defend our God with our lives. Some have had to do so. Many of us have not. But it is the willingness to defend Him in any situation that defines us and brings us closer to Him. His love and power will support us in every step as we stand as a witness of Him.
Christ Sets a Perfect Example
We are taught to look to Christ because He is literally the perfect example for our lives. And while we are asked to live Christ-like lives, please remember that we are not expected to live perfect lives. Christ’s sacrifice is centered on love and mercy. He expects us to turn to Him and rely on Him when we do things right AND when we make mistakes.
We do not have to be perfect to live a Christ-like life. We just have to try. God recognizes our efforts and our growth. He makes allowances for our weaknesses. And He loves us no matter what our life looks like.
But He does ask us to promise to be better. To love those around us and to serve them. To stand for our Savior and our Father. To give our lives to Him and obey His commandments.
And if we do our best to keep these promises, God will accept our efforts with infinite love and mercy.