Summary: A sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday.
“Heaven Torn Open”
Throughout the Old Testament, from the Fall in Genesis—forward—God is cloaked in mystery.
Throughout the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness, Moses is God’s mouthpiece through whom God speaks.
When the Tabernacle was set up, the Lord led the people by a cloud during the day and fire by night.
In Exodus the Israelites were told that a curtain would separate “the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place” where the ark of the Covenant was.
And when Moses asked God, “Show me your glory” the Lord said, “you cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.
And whenever Moses did enter the Lord’s presence to speak with Him, he had to put a veil over his face.
“He didn’t remove the veil until he came out.
And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant.”
The Lord always loved humankind, but it had always been a very mysterious thing.
There was a separation.
A brokenness in the relationship.
God is Holy and Other.
We are of the dust and sinful.
But God “so loved the world,” that He tore the heavens open and moved into our neighborhood--into our sinful world.
He became one of us.
And He became one with us!!!
At Jesus’ baptism, heaven, the dividing wall was “torn open…the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus” and God declared: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
***Insert Graphic of the quote below***
(Minus Karl Barth said that..)
Karl Barth said that “God’s claiming of Jesus summarizes the essence of the gospel: the astonishing claim that God does not desire to remain hidden in the heights of heaven but descends to the depths of earthly life in order to be seen and heard by us—infinite creatures.”
We are told that John came “baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
“And this was his message: ‘After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down to untie.
I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
This is our hope.
And this is what happens to us when we turn to Jesus—accept His love and Lordship over us, His death in our place, His friendship and His call to “come follow me.”’
We are baptized by water for repentance of sins and also baptized by the Holy Spirt.
And God looks at us—and sees Jesus.
His child whom He loves.
His child with whom He is well-pleased.
That’s you—that’s me.
And again—that’s amazing!!!
***Put up Graphic of what I quote from 2 Corinthians 3***
As Paul says in 2 Corinthian 3:
“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.”
“in Christ [the veil] is taken away.”
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
***Take down graphic***
It has been concluded that God’s unveiling of Jesus as God’s Son was the event that eventually led to the Cross.
The journey to the Cross defines what Jesus being God’s Son really means.
The Cross is the ultimate offering of God’s love.
It is the greatest testament to us that we are loved and not alone.
It is what gives us hope in a world of despair, light in the darkness, a reason to live—new life, salvation and access to God the Father—the remission of sins.
On our behalf, at His baptism, Jesus—Who never once sinned—joined the ranks of repentant sinners.
Again, that is you.
That is me.
Or is it?
Let’s face it.
This world is terribly twisted up.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
I’m not a dooms-dayer.
There is much, much beauty.
And I have never met a person, in whom, I did not see at least something good, something lovely and definitely something filled to the brim with potential.
But we are broken.
We are twisted.
We are lost.
We are hurting.
And don’t ever let anyone try and trick you into thinking otherwise.
No one has it together, no matter what they may look like on the outside.
For a documentary entitled: "The Mask You Live In," a scene shows a U.S. school teacher giving a group of high school boys a circular piece of paper.
On one side they write what their image is—what they are trying to project to others.