From the Word
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For he who has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:3–11, RSV
Christ’s death and resurrection and our baptism are intimately united with, and related to one another. Baptism is not to be regarded a mere empty sign, as the Anabaptists erroneously hold. In it is embodied the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. Through baptism he dedicates us to himself and imparts to us the power of his death and resurrection, to the end that both death and life may follow in us. Hence our sins are crucified through his death and taken away, that they may finally die in us and live no longer.
Being subjected to the water in baptism signifies that we die in Christ. Coming forth from the water teaches and imparts to us a new life in him, as Christ remained not in death, but was raised again to life. Such life should not and cannot be a life of sin, because sin was crucified before in us and we had to die to it. It must be a new life of righteousness and holiness, as through his resurrection Christ finally destroyed sin, on account of which he had to die, and instead he brought to himself the true life of righteousness and imparts it to us. Hence we are said to be planted together with Christ or united with him and become one, so that we have in us the power of his death and resurrection.
The Christian’s death and suffering on earth are not really death and harm, but a planting unto life; being redeemed from death and sin by the resurrection, we shall live eternally. For that which is planted is planted that it may sprout and grow. So Christ was planted through death unto life; for not until he was released from this mortal life and from the sin which rested on him and brought him into death on our account, did he come into his divine glory and power. Since this planting begins in baptism and by faith we possess life in Christ, it is evident that this life must strike root in us and bear fruit. For that which is planted is not planted without purpose; it is to grow and bear fruit. So we must prove by our new conversation and by our fruits that we are planted into Christ unto life.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 250–51.