Summary: In baptism God puts his name on us making us "valuable" - like a baseball that has received the autograph of a famous player...
In places like Europe and Japan, people love the spa. I’m not talking about day spas where you sit around in a bathrobe and get your nails done. I’m talking about mineral spas, places where water infused with minerals from subterranean rock bubbles to the surface. The water at mineral spas can look quite muddy and smell like rotten eggs, as does the water from this hot spring in Japan (pictured on slide), and so the average North American wouldn’t think of dipping a toe in such water but Japanese will gladly pay for the privilege of soaking their whole body in it. Why? Because they know that the mineral-laced water has healing properties. It gives relief from various skin ailments and even somehow penetrates the skin to relive arthritis pain. Soaking in a tub full of hot water from the tap at home won’t give you the same results. The minerals dissolved in the water of a spa make all the difference.
Throughout our sermon series on baptism we’ve been talking about what an awesome sacrament baptism is. However, we have yet to answer the question of how the water of baptism can do the wonderful things it does like forgive sin, make us heirs of eternal life, grant the Holy Spirit, create and strengthen faith, and break the sinful nature’s control over us. In the third part of his explanation of baptism Luther wrote: “It is certainly not the water that does such things, but God’s Word which is in and with the water, and faith which trusts this Word used with the water. For without God’s Word the water is just plain water and not Baptism… God’s Word makes [baptism] a washing through which God graciously forgives our sin and grants us rebirth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” The Apostle Paul supports Luther’s assessment. He says in our text: “…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25b-27).
As we consider this watery sacrament again let’s think of baptism as God’s Word spa. Just as the water of a spa accomplishes much because it has been infused with minerals, so the water of baptism accomplishes great things because it has been infused with God’s powerful promises. Let’s find out why it’s so comforting to know that baptism’s power comes from God’s Word.
I want to begin by making it perfectly clear that the water of baptism is just ordinary water. The water we use in our baptisms at St. Peter’s doesn’t come from the Jordan River in the Holy Land. It hasn’t been blessed by the pastor or the synod president. It’s water that fell from the sky as snow or rain, and before it splashed its way into the font via our kitchen tap it may at one time have been used to wash clothes, dishes,…or someone’s hair.