Washing of rebirth
When you are an adopted child in a family with a natural child, you wonder whether your parents love you in the same way that they love their own flesh and blood. How could they? They say that they do, and they demonstrate it in many ways, but when you’re being disciplined, you wonder if you will keep that place in the family.
In this Titus text, St. Paul calls us heirs. Jesus is the one and only begotten Son of the Father. We believers are the adopted children. But the Holy Spirit has Paul write that we are heirs, children who receive our inheritance from God the Father, not after He dies, but at the death of Jesus. In an extraordinary act of grace, the Father treats us the same way that he treats his one and only begotten Son.
St. Paul writes: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).
So when Jesus was baptized and the Father said, “This is my Son, in whom I am well-pleased,” we can be confident that we have the same approval of the Father through our baptism, not because of righteous things that we have done, but because of his mercy. The perfect life of the one and only begotten Son is credited to our account, so our baptisms become washings of rebirth and renewal and righteousness.
When we see the Holy Spirit poured out on Jesus in the form of a dove at his baptism, we also can be sure that the Holy Spirit is poured out on us through our baptism, along with the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are presents from a loving Father that last a lifetime.
Just as Jesus, the firstborn, has risen from the dead, we too will rise. That’s how we live today as secure adopted children of the Father, having the hope of eternal life.