Summary: A sermon for the first Sunday after the Epiphany The Baptism of Jesus
First Sunday after the Epiphany
Baptism of Jesus Sermon
"Baptism as Life"
"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."" Matthew 3:13-17, RSV.
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
The following is from a sermon by Richard Jensen: "The call sounded urgent. It was Pam Weatherby. "Pastor Washington," she said breathlessly, "you’ve got to come to the hospital right away. Nathan just had a heart attack."
Pastor Washington rushed to the hospital. He met Pam in the hall on the way to Nathan’s room in intensive care. "This is all so sudden," Pam said. "I don’t know what to think." Pastor Washington tried to comfort her the the best way he could.
Soon they were ushered into Nathan’s room. Nathan didn’t look good at all. He was terribly pale and looked very tired. Pam and Pastor Washington stepped to his bedside. No one said a word. They could see that Nathan wanted to say something. Finally he blurted it out. "I don’t want to die," he said in desperation. "I want to live. I want life."
It was always on Tuesday afternoons that Harriet Mead got her hair fixed at the beauty parlor. She looked forward to it. It was one of the few pleasures she had left in life. Life had been hard on Harriet Mead. Her husband had left her a few years back; left her to raise the three kids. Now the kids were causing her all kinds of problems. But here, in the beauty parlor, she could sit back, relax and enjoy being cared for.
Harriet always had the same woman fix her hair. Sheila Stone had been doing her hair now for several years. Harriet and Sheila had become quite good friends over the years. "Things will turn out right yet," Sheila said to Harriet, "just you wait and see. Life has a way of correcting these things."
"Ha," Harriet replied. "What life? You call what I’m living life? This is no life, I tell you. This is not living at all."
The teenagers gathered in silence. Most of them had never even been to a funeral before. Now one of their classmates was dead; dead at 16. He had taken his own life. Mourning draped itself over their gathering. No one really knew what to do or what to say. They just followed along with the service. Soon the pastor spoke. He read from a note that their classmate had left behind. "I can take life no longer," the note began, "I choose death over life."
"I want to live. I want life," Nathan Weatherby said.
"This is no life I tell you. This is not living at all," said Harriet Mead.
"I can take life no longer. I choose death," the teenager’s suicide note declared.
Each of these people made statements about life. Life is tough. Life is difficult. Life is in jeopardy. Life is not worth living. What do you say about life? Most of us, I think, do experience many difficulties in life. Life can be hard. Life can be tough. We long for a better life. Would that it could be!"
Life can be tough. Life can be difficult. But in that toughness, there is a bright spot. That spot is knowing and believing that we are children of God through our baptism. Baptism reminds us "whose" we are. We are Christ’s children. Baptism reminds us of who we are, children of God.
Our lesson this morning is the Baptism of Jesus. Jesus was baptized by John in the river Jordan not because he needed his sins forgiven, but because he needed to know that he was God’s special child.
In Jesus’ Baptism, this was a sign for Jesus as well as John that God had indeed chosen Jesus to be his incarnate presence in this world. Jesus’ Baptism was an Epiphany event, or a manifestation, or a light, or a revelation of God’s presence in this world.
Jesus as he grew up in his father’s carpenter shop must have been looking for a sign from God to tell him when he was to go about his public ministry. John’s preaching, John’s 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. God’s voice, the coming of the spirit on him all confirmed for Jesus he was indeed God’s chosen one, the one who would bring the good news to all people.