Monday, January 20, 2014

Sermon for 1/12/14--The Baptism of Our Lord

Again, I'm a little behind. We didn't have worship on January 5 due to the horrible weather and road conditions, so you didn't miss anything from the previous week.



Clean and Full of the Spirit

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

After He expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, the Lord uttered the terrible sentence: "My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh."  When man listened to the Serpent, the devil, rather than the voice of the Lord God, then the heavens were shut, and man could not open them. There was no one in whom the Father was completely and fully delighted, upon whom the Spirit could come to rest…until the day your Savior Jesus began His ministry in the flesh. When Jesus was baptized according to God the Father's will, He was praying, and a most unexpected and most wonderful event occurred. The heavens burst open once again! The Holy Spirit, who for so long stayed aloft, giving the Word to all those prophets back in the Old Testament that a Savior was coming, finally came down to abide in the flesh of Jesus.

That’s important, because from the moment Jesus emerges from the water of the Jordan River, the devil also went full bore at Him, trying to tempt Him into being some other kind of Jesus than He came to be. From the moment of His baptism, Jesus walked the earth as a sin-bearer, all the way to the cross. Over and over we see His own innocence ignored, and He is treated as a criminal, a blasphemer, a sinner. Ever closer He goes to the cross until finally, handed over by His own friend, He was condemned by the clergy who should know God's Word. He was put to death by an indifferent Roman governor. What begins in His Baptism ends at the cross of Calvary, where He died, covered in your sins. And then He rose, and your sins are left behind in the tomb, gone for good. That's what Jesus stepping into the Jordan today is all about.

And that brings us to your baptism. Don't do what so many “good Christian people” do. Don’t ignore your baptism like it's just something that happened long ago. Don't go looking for Christ in your feelings and rainbows and things that happen that make you happy. Christ is found nowhere else than His Word and gifts. Don't go looking anywhere other than your Baptism to find God. Repent of talking about your faith without talking about what God has given you in your baptism! Your Baptism, after all, is an event at which the whole Triune God is present! It is God at work. Your baptism is Jesus taking YOUR place because He has carried your sins. Your baptism is the Holy Spirit landing on you to make you His temple. Your baptism is the Father Himself declaring, "You are my beloved son!" You see, when you are baptized, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are washing you, forgiving you, saving you.

The Lord steps into the Jordan for you today. He does it to take your sins from you because you cannot be rid of them yourself. He takes them to Calvary and the tomb and leaves them there. And then, in your baptism, the same Father, Son and Holy Spirit that were there at the Jordan River are there at the font giving you a new birth from above, forgiving your sins, rescuing you from death and the devil, and giving you eternal salvation. There is no better proof in your life about what God has done for you than your baptism. Therefore on this day of Jesus' baptism, remember and rejoice in your own baptism, where you received the Holy Spirit, faith, the forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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