Summary: This is a sermon that focuses on how we are all a part of the family of God... despite our denomination.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
“One in Baptism”
As conversations on airplanes go… this one was going amazingly well. It wasn’t like the time when this one lady showed me all the pictures of her 80 children… and by children I mean cats. To make the event even more fulfilling… I got to learn all of their names. I will remember Mr. Snugglepaws most fondly of them all!
It wasn’t like the time I sat next to the ExactoPump Salesman. The ExactoPump!… the fastest and most accurate transfer pump you can buy for your gas station’s fuel pumps. Able to operate at both 12 and 24 volts! Top speed of over 40 gallons per minute… or an exact time of One Gallon every 1.42 seconds! Built in tracking systems monitor both flow and speed and transfer that information into a printable report. You get only one guess as to how I know all of this.
No… this conversation was going amazingly well compared to most I’ve had. We had gotten past the most dreadful part of the typical conversation… they get to the part where they ask me what I do… and I tell them that I am Pastor. And there is usually this flair of shock and horror… it is the same reaction I would expect if I told them I had a highly contagious disease and was expecting to die in… oh… say… 20 seconds. Their demeanor changes, the conversation suddenly takes on a grocery list format as they begin to list all their excuses for not going to church. It’s quite funny actually.
I have often debated whether or not I should start telling complete strangers I will never see again that I have a different profession. I could tell them I’m an ExactoPump salesman and they would leave me alone to read a book or take a nap. But after it all, I continue to remain honest when the dreadful question comes along.
Well this particular conversation I was having… did not have the stereotypical dread associated with. When I told him I was a pastor… he didn’t turn green! We actually started having a wonderful conversation about religion. (The following is taken from Max Lucado “A Gentle Thunder”)
“Are you a believer?” I asked.
“Oh yes,” he said excitedly.
“Do you believe in the Virgin birth?” I asked.
“The Deity of Jesus?”
“Death of Christ on the cross?”
“He died for all people.”
I was quite shocked at the prospect that I might be face to face with a real Christian! I continued my questioning to find out for sure.
“What is the status of man?”
“Sinner in need of grace.”
“Definition of grace.”
“God doing for man what man can not do.”
I started getting excited.
“What about the bible.”
He was getting interested too.
My heart began to beat faster.
“The body of Christ.”
My eyes misted. I had only one other question.
“What denomination are you?”
“I’m a Methodist!”
“Heretic!” I exclaimed.
Seem far fetched? If so, only a little. Just look at all the different denominations we have. Within the denominations are factions themselves. Take us Presbyterians for example. There is the PC(USA), the EPC, the PCA, the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. PC. We all gather around God’s table as siblings… squabbling away about meaningless points, and the Father sighs.
The Father sighs because there is only one flock, but somehow we missed that point. Religious division was not his idea. Franchises and sectarianism are not a part of God’s plan. Those of us who believe that there is only one TRUE church are actually right… but if we believe that the only TRUE church is our church… we are not so right.
You see, we are all children of God through the central act of today’s scripture. Our text today is only four verses long, but they are some of the most powerful verses in all of scripture. Our lesson today is the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. While it might seem like a straightforward event in the life of Christ, a story we all know, are all familiar with, could all probably tell with a good measure of accuracy… it is still an event with a huge problem associated with it. It’s a problem we never really think about… a problem that for the most part goes entirely unnoticed. The problem is this… “Why did Jesus have to be baptized?”