Baptism as Epiphany
Sermon shared by Tim Zingale
Summary: Sermon for the First Sunday after the Epiphany The Baptism of Jesus
Audience: General adults
Jesus as he grew up in his fatherís carpenter shop must have been looking for a sign from God to tell him when he was to go about his public ministry. Johnís preaching, Johnís baptism was just that sign. Jesus came to John not because he needed to be forgiven of his sins, but as a sign, a revelation to all people and a revelation to himself that he was to begin his public ministry. He received conformation in a physical way what he knew in his heart to be his task. Godís voice, the coming of the spirit on him all confirmed for Jesus he was indeed Godís chosen one, the one who would bring the good news to all people.
In Baptism, we too become Godís chosen ones. In the pouring of the water and in the saying of the words, we become Godís children in Baptism. We are chosen by God. He acts, he comes to us through the water and the word to make us his. A baby might be either sleep or cry during Baptism, but that is all it will do. The baby will have no active part, that is because God is the one who acts. God comes to the baby and claims it for his own. God does all the action in Baptism. God claims itís life for eternity.
"A pastor stood by the grave side of a young mother with her husband and 3 children. The husband looked into the eyes of the pastor and demdanded; "Now tell me what you really believe, Pastor, Is this the end of everything. the way God meant it to be?"
The pastor said, "Itís not what t I believe that matters,.. you have the answer in your heart. You know deep in your heart, this is not the end. You havenít stopped loving your wife. Do you think God has?? You know that life with God is eternal. God gave you that faith.. All YOU have to do my friend is believe what your heart already knows."
Yes,the claim upon us in Baptism is for eternity
In our baptism, we are also anointed with the Spirit. A sign of the cross is made to seal the covenant agreement made through the water and the word. Our sins are forgiven as it says in Titus 3:5 " He saved us not on tile basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the HoIy Spirit."
Our sins are forgiven, and at the same time, we agree, since that what an covenant is, an agreement between two parties, to fight against sin and to confess our sins daily to God so that he might drown them and raise out of the waters of our Baptism a new person. Baptism is not a magical rite which as Archie Bunker would say is a little religion just to be on the safe side, but in Baptism an agreement is made between us and God.
This agreement is for a lifetime. God agrees to forgive my sins, and I agree to fight against sin and when I do sin, to ask, God to cleanse me and renew me again in the waters of my Baptism. That is not to say we need to be Baptized each day, but each day I relive my Baptism in that God drowns my sinful self and raises up a new person.
So Baptism happends once, but I live in it daily. And if I donít keep my part of the agreement, to confess my sins, to seek Godís forgiveness, then the promise of Baptism means nothing, because in my forsaking I also turn away f rom Godís action of forgivness.
Luther says in his works these ideas about Baptism: íTherefore they greatly err who think that through baptism
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