Summary: A sermon for the first Sunday after the Epiphany The Baptism of Jesus
Baptism of Jesus
First Sunday after the epiphany
"Being with Us"
"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 fulfil 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 chief executive officer of a manufacturing firm got into the habit of showing up in the production area unannounced. Sometimes he would take off his coat and tie, roll up his sleeves, and help on the assembly line. One of the bolder employees asked him one day, "Why do you do that?"
"I don’t know a better way," the CEO replied, "to catch the pulse of what the workers think and feel. I don’t know better how to see things from their point of view."
When he returned each time to the solitude of his office, he had indeed gained something he would not have had, had he not spent time out with "ordinary" folk.
Jesus’ baptism was a sort of "going down to the production line." He certainly did not have to do it. Some wondered why he did it.
Jesus came to earth as the Son of God so that God would understand the human predicament. Jesus was Baptized because He wanted everyone to know that He was human. God did not know any other way to save the human race than to become like the human race and to that end He came as a Babe born in a manger and today we see His humanity in a very real way as Jesus was baptized.
The main point of this text for me is not how Jesus was baptized, but why.
The why of his baptism is important for it shows us his humanity. It shows us that Jesus does understand the human predicament of sinner and saint. In Baptism we are made saints, or children of God, but at the same time we are living in the sinfulness of this world. This world has not been fully redeemed, so we are at the same time as Luther says saint and sinner.
In our Baptism, we have become the chosen ones of God. He declares we are his. In Jesus’ baptism, God declares to those who were there and to us through his word, the Bible, that Jesus is his son. The son of God who comes to earth to share in our humanity and then through the cross and resurrection to save humanity from sin.
Our baptism begins a journey for us as we live in Christ and trust him for our salvation. It is a trust that is played out in all the circumstances of our lives.
Baptism means obedience. Baptism means trust.
It is like the little boy in the following:
A kindergartner was dropped off in-front of the school door by his father who admonished him, "Now if I’m not right here at the curb, waiting for you in the car, when you get out of kindergarten later on this afternoon, you just sit down on the front step and wait. And don’t move. Don’t go anywhere. Just stay there. Do you understand?"
The school day ended. The young fellow did exactly as he had been told. He sat down on the front step of the school building and waited. Three o’clock gave way to 3:30. 4:00 came, and then 5:00.
At sixteen minutes after five his father, driving on an errand, suddenly remembered what he had instructed his young son to do. He almost had a heart attack, realizing the boy could have been kidnapped by this time. He turned the car around and raced to the school building. There his son was sitting, obediently waiting on the step.
"Didn’t you worry that I might not come?" his father asked, his voice shaking.
The youngster answered, "No. You told me not to move. I knew you’d come. And I was right. You did."
Baptism is about obedience, doing what may not make a bit of sense to us, but doing it because it is the faithful thing to do.
Our Baptism begins that journey of trust in the saving power of Jesus through the cross and resurrection. A trust and a belief that can uphold us during the difficult parts of our lives.