I love this point, well mainly hearing the point. "If Baptism is essential, then why didn't Jesus baptized anyone?"
Romans 6:4 says that we are "baptized into his death" .. How could anyone be baptized into his death if he was still alive?
It is essential for those who wish to be obedient, but not for salvation. That earlier wedding ring analogy was pretty good, as a sybol of what has occured, not a a means to an end. As far as Jesus not baptising, that is true (or at least if He did, it was not mentioned). However, Jesus Himself was baptisted, and I think we want to be like Him. In anycase, Jesus' diciples baptised people during Jesus earthly ministry. Paul only baptised a few, put never indicated that it was not important. So, what I would ask, is why would any beleiver who does not have a phobia of water, avoid baptism? To Nebula's point about Hebrew and immersion, I do not know about that, but the Greek Baptizo, does mean immersion. If translators of the Bible, wanted to be literal, they would have called John the baptist: "John the immerser". To render baptizo as baptism, is not a translation, it is a transliteration. My guess is that most bibles use the word batism, becuase they do not want to lose sales among denominations that sprinkle and pour.