Summary: So you don't remember your baptism? Well God does...
Today we look at "Epiphany the Sequel: The Baptism of Christ". Over these weeks we look at Jesus being revealed to the world.
- Last week we looked at wise men coming from far off countries to visit the baby Jesus: Jesus is not just for the Jews but for all nations.
- Next week we will look at Jesus's first miracle as he reveals his power and his purpose to the world, turning water into wine.
- This Sunday we look at his first public appearance, as he is baptised in the river Jordan by John the Baptist.
As we learn about Jesus it's impossible not to learn about his love for us, so we will be learning not just about Jesus's baptism, but also about what that teaches us about our baptism.
I'm going to open the passage up under 4 headings:
1) Joined with Jesus
2) Picked by the Father
3) Empowered by the Spirit
4) Sent out to Serve
JOINED WITH JESUS
Why did Jesus bother to be baptised?
You and I need to be baptised - we are sinners and we need those sins washed away.
But Jesus is the sinless Son of God. What need has he to be baptised? Luke does not spell this out, but in Matthew's Gospel we see John the Baptist asking exactly that question. "I need to be baptised by you, and you come to me?" (Matt 3:14)
So why did the sinless Son of God come to be baptised? Let me tell you a story
You may have heard of Corrie Ten boom. She belonged to a dutch Christian Family. Her grandfather Wilhelm ten Boon started a weekly prayer group in 1844 in the city of Haarlem, near Amsterdam for the salvation of the Jews. This weekly prayer meeting amazingly continued uninterrupted until 1944 when the ten Boon family were sent to a concentration camp for hiding Jews to save them from the holocaust.
There is an interesting story about her father Caspar ten Boon. When the Jews were forced to wear the “Star of David,” Casper lined up for one. He wore it because he wanted to identify himself with the people for whom he and his family had been praying for all those years.
He was prepared to be so completely identified with the Jews that he was willing to wear a sign of shame and suffer persecution for the sake of the people he loved. He didn’t have to wear the Star but chose to. [illustration taken from a sermon by Martin Dale on this site]
In the same way - Jesus does not have to be bapstised. But because he loves us to much, he is baptised to identify himself with us, just as Caspar Ten Boom put on the yellow star to identify himself with the Jews he loved so much.
Jesus joined himself to us by baptism into the river Jordan. And when we are baptised, we are joined with Jesus. "Baptism...now saves you, not as a removal of physical dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a cleansed conscience through the resurection of Jesus Christ who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of the Father." (1 Peter 3:21). We are joined to Jesus and so through his prayers we are made clean. It is not the outer dirt that is washed away but the inner dirt of sin.
Lutheran Priest Fr Tim Zingale describes baptism as "a boarding pass to a life of adventure with Jesus Christ." We are joined with Jesus and given the invitation to get on the plane, to take the boarding pass and start the adventure of a lifetime.
PICKED BY THE FATHER
After Jesus is baptised, the heavens open, and we hear the voice of the Father. "You my son, the beloved, in you I am well pleased" (Lk 3:22)
As one preacher puts it, "when God is pleased, nothing else matters." Think what is going on inside Jesus's head. "OK - I'm the Son of God - or am I? Am I making it up? am I crazy?" Before he begins his ministry, God affirms publically who he is. "You my son, the beloved, in you I am well pleased" (Lk 3:22) In all the dark days ahead, Jesus will be able to look back to that occasion and remember those words. "You my son, the beloved, in you I am well pleased" (Lk 3:22)
And those words are not just for Jesus. Isaiah tells us "Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine" (Isaiah 43:1).
Another Lutheran priest, Father Matt Hoffman says of our baptism: "God gave you a name that day. God said, "you are MY BELOVED CHILD" and he doesn't change his mind. Remember that not just on your good days, but on your awful days. Thank God that you are baptised because it means something" "You are MY BELOVED CHILD" "When God is pleased, nothing else matters."