TEXT: MATT. 3:13-17; 1 COR. 1:26-31; JOSH 3:1-3, 7, 8, 13-17
“THIS IS MY BELOVED SON”


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Dear hearers of the Word made flesh; the wonder of what God reveals in Jesus at the Jordan cannot be fully understood or explained by us!  Jesus’ first adult act in the Gospels abounds and overflows with holy surprise!  God grant us on this day – joyful thanksgiving at the Baptism of our Lord! 


Then Jesus came from Galilee…Yes! “Jesus” named before His birth as Savior from sin – worshipped by wise men from the east – refugee to Egypt escaping King Herod’s sword…Then Jesus came from GalileeYes!  Out of Egypt God called His Son after Herod’s death.  Joseph and Mary withdrew to the district of Galilee and lived in a city called Nazareth.  There the child grew into manhood. 


Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan…Yes!  The Jordan river rich with God’s wonder!  The river of Naaman’s cleansing from leprosy!  Before that, the river of Israel’s passing over into the Promised Land – on dry ground!  The Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel so that they would know the Lord was with him as He had been with Moses.  To this end the Lord said to Joshua, when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.  As at the Red Sea, the water of the Jordan does the bidding of the Lord of all the earth.  Yahweh’s presence is with His people in the Ark of the Covenant carried by priests standing in the divided waters of the Jordan

 

 

 



THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD – JAN 11, 2015
TEXT: MATT. 3:13-17; 1 COR. 1:26-31; JOSH 3:1-3, 7, 8, 13-17
“THIS IS MY BELOVED SON”


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Dear hearers of the Word made flesh; the wonder of what God reveals in Jesus at the Jordan cannot be fully understood or explained by us!  Jesus’ first adult act in the Gospels abounds and overflows with holy surprise!  God grant us on this day – joyful thanksgiving at the Baptism of our Lord! 


Then Jesus came from Galilee…Yes! “Jesus” named before His birth as Savior from sin – worshipped by wise men from the east – refugee to Egypt escaping King Herod’s sword…Then Jesus came from GalileeYes!  Out of Egypt God called His Son after Herod’s death.  Joseph and Mary withdrew to the district of Galilee and lived in a city called Nazareth.  There the child grew into manhood. 


Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan…Yes!  The Jordan river rich with God’s wonder!  The river of Naaman’s cleansing from leprosy!  Before that, the river of Israel’s passing over into the Promised Land – on dry ground!  The Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel so that they would know the Lord was with him as He had been with Moses.  To this end the Lord said to Joshua, when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.  As at the Red Sea, the water of the Jordan does the bidding of the Lord of all the earth.  Yahweh’s presence is with His people in the Ark of the Covenant carried by priests standing in the divided waters of the Jordan.


Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John...Yes!  John confessed, I am not the Christ…I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “make straight the way of the Lord.”  He was not the light but came to bear witness about the light. (John 1)  Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to to JohnYes!  The forerunner of the Messiah had been blasting away at sinners proclaiming a fearful judgment to come.  I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (3:11-12) You see, Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  (3:5-6)


Then JesusYes!...came from GalileeYes!...to the JordanYes!...to JohnYes!...to be baptized by him.  No! No! No!  John would have prevented him, saying, “I (myself) need to be baptized by you, and do you (yourself) come to me?  John is stunned!  John is emphatic!  The Greek is strong.  He was for stopping Jesus altogether.  He truly tried to avoid this act. 


To be baptized by him.  No! No, thought John with conviction.  There is an incredible contrast between what John preached about the superior, mightier one baptizing with fire and Jesus’ intention to receive a baptism for sinners!  John’s baptism is for repentance – for turning from death to life – for turning from unbelief to faith!  Does Jesus need to repent?  Is Jesus among the lost sheep of the house of Israel?  Is the promised divine Messiah a sinner?  No! No! No! thought John!


But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then he consented.  John doesn’t understand it all right now, but Jesus’ word does what it says.  Then he consented.  What John preached will come on the last day!  There will be separation of chaff from God’s wheat.  Right now, however, in the present time, this shockingly unexpected act is precisely and overwhelmingly right and fitting and essential. 


Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  In the Old Testament righteousness can mean the opposite of wickedness – acts that are just and in keeping with God’s will (Ezek. 18).  But when the context is God’s righteousness – the Psalms (71) – Isaiah (51:5-8) – the dominant use of “righteousness” means the saving deeds that Yahweh Himself performs for his people.  God’s righteousness in this usage is equivalent to His salvation.  What now occurs on Jordan’s banks is God at work to deliver His righteousness into this fallen world.  It will come to sinful man through this man Jesus.  That’s why Jesus began His public ministry in the Jordan among penitent sinners! 


And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  As the prophet Isaiah looked to the eschaton he had cried to the Lord for an end-time outcome.  “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down” (Isaiah 64:1) and look – the heavens were opened.  They opened up right over Jesus the Christ!  The prophet Isaiah had revealed of the end-time coming of the root of the stump of Jesse – “the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him” (Isaiah 11:2) and look – he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him.  The long-awaited end times are here in the Baptism of our Lord!


Concerning the Spirit’s resting on Jesus, it’s not that Jesus had ever been apart from the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit in His fullness remained with Jesus from His conception to this day.  But on the day of His baptism Jesus is anointed by the Holy Spirit for His work of redemption and re-creation!  On this day, wet with a sinner’s baptism – literally standing with sinners to begin His ministry to sinners - Jesus physically sees the Spirit’s descent!  What a powerful corrective to errant views of “spirituality” and spiritual power even in our day!  The dove is a symbol of creation and recreation and peace.  Like a dove the Holy Spirit comes down on the incarnate Christ who is humbling Himself to literally stand with us sinners and take the place of us sinners and bring us sinners peace with God.


And behold a voice from heaven said, “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  In a world given over to sin, death and the devil, the delight and pleasure of God are in His beloved Son!  Jesus is the single Man of grace (Romans 5) whom God loves.  Jesus is the Man of grace in whom you have now become God’s beloved (Ephesians 1:3-14). 


Dear Christians, Jesus was not baptized for Himself.  Jesus was baptized for you.  John rightly saw Jesus as holy, unique, set apart, separate – he would have prevented His baptism.  Jesus said, no – it is “us” together – “Let it be so now…to fulfill all righteousness.”  Christ joins us in our sin to bear it away!  Jesus takes on all that has gone wrong with us!  Where our sins are is where Jesus is!  With that sin He belongs with us – there is no separation!  Therefore His righteousness is also where we are.  What is ours is His!  What is His is ours!  If our hearts would take this in Martin Luther said, they would burst with joy into a hundred thousand pieces. (Selected Sermons of Norma Nagel – p.44) 


In this matter of our hearts joy in the Baptism of our Lord – the Holy Spirit helps us see our sin!  We so easily search for joy in trinkets!  We can find joy in earthly gain even at the cost of spiritual loss!  We can find joy in the beauty of God’s creation but be dull in confessing the Absolute Giver of all creation – the Lord of all the earth.  We can rejoice in the gifts of daily bread we receive but neglect heartfelt thanksgiving to our Father who gives them.  We dying sinners can be more joyfully thrilled by the outcome of a sport’s game or a political vote then by the outpouring of God’s saving love on Jordan’s banks.    Our hearts are sadly inner-directed and easily warped by the world.  Sometimes they can even find joy in another’s adversity or weakness!  Our works do fail us!  In this matter of our heart’s joy in the Baptism of our Lord – the Holy Spirit helps us see our sin!  God forgive our misplaced joy.  Most especially God forgive our passed-over, joy in His freely given grace – seen already here at the Jordan. 

 

Beloved of the Father, this act shows perfectly how Jesus will save His people from their sins!  Jesus’ Baptism shows that God’s kingdom is coming in a gracious, unexpected way!  Jesus’ Baptism points forward to His death and resurrection in place of sinners!  In shouldering our sin Jesus also shoulders the payment for our sin.  Again Luther is insightful.  “It is as if Christ wanted to say ‘Although I am not myself a sinner, yet nevertheless I now bring with me the sin of the whole world, so that I am now only a sinner and the greatest sinner of the whole world.”  (W2 12:1137). 


It is right for us to consider the payment made by Him as the greatest sinner of the whole world.  Recall from Joshua what occurred when God was present in the waters of the Jordan.  As the priests bore the ark of the Lord and stood in the stream, the waters flow was cut off!  The waters of the Jordan stood in one heap!  On Calvary – the man who is now God’s ark in the flesh was crucified according to God’s foreknowledge and plan.  As He was sacrificed, the whole stream of humanity’s sin was cut off and stood in a heap against Him alone.  John had rightly proclaimed of Him – “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  (John 1:29)  As He suffered and died the whole stream of God’s wrath for all the world’s sin also stood in a heap against Him.  He was cut off from the Father so that God’s wrath would forever be cut off from us!  See again the intimate connection between the Father’s voice at Jesus’ Baptism – This is My beloved Son – and Jesus’ voice in the darkness of Good Friday – “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?  Yet, God’s pleasure is so anchored in His beloved Son that He raised Jesus from the dead.

 

See how the Holy Trinity is so powerfully for you!  See how the Lord of all the earth withholds nothing from you!  The one who took God’s wrath in a heap and then rose from the grip of death bestowed a marvelous gift – a miracle - when He said – All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 


By Jesus’ giving, yours is a water and Spirit baptism!  Yours is a washing of rebirth!  You have passed over from death to life with God on the dry ground of His righteousness that Jesus fulfilled. 


In the gifts of the risen Christ you now have everything you need, the Holy Spirit, an open heaven, the Father’s love.  Jesus is everything to God the Father and everything Jesus receives from the Father He now gives to you.  The whole divine life is open to you! 


Heaven is so accessible to you that Jesus now teaches you to pray with Him - Our Father who art in heaven.  Heaven is so accessible to you that the ascended Christ who now intercedes for you at the right hand of God still says “no” to separation from you.  At His table comes to serve you the gifts of God’s righteousness fulfilled – His true body – His purifying blood - heavenly food!  The heavens are still opened to Him who humbly began His ministry at the Jordan!  He is still ministering to you!   


Then JesusYes!...came from GalileeYes!...to the JordanYes!...to JohnYes!...to be baptized by himYes! Yes! Yes!


In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a