Summary: This sermon on the Baptism of the Lord Sunday, Year A, seeks to remind us what baptism means in our lives.
REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM!
JANUARY 12, 2014
BAPTISM OF THE LORD SUNDAY, YEAR A
FARM HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, HARRISBURG, AR
INTRO. Strange things can happen at baptisms. I read somewhere of a pastor who was baptizing in a river. Not realizing what he was doing, he positioned the person he was baptizing so that they faced down river. When he immersed the person, the current of the river grabbed him and took him out of the grasp of the pastor and down the river a ways! He was able to swim to shore and rejoin the service, but the pastor learned - NEVER baptize a person with the current of the river - ALWAYS baptize them against the current, so the river will push them back up instead of pulling them away.
The story is told about the baptism of King Aengus by St. Patrick in the middle of the fifth century. Sometime during the ceremony, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and, by mistake, stabbed the king’s foot. After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down at all the blood, realized what he had done, and begged the king’s forgiveness.
Why did you suffer this pain in silence, the Saint wanted to know.
The king replied, “I thought it was part of the ritual.”
- Knowing the Face of God, Tim Stafford, p. 121ff
Doesn’t that sound like a strange baptism? Here in Matthew, we have John protesting to Jesus that it was suddenly a strange baptism - one, in fact, where John should be receiving baptism, not administering it! However, Jesus had a sure purpose in what he was doing here. What would he teach us about baptism?
I. BAPTISM MEANS WE BELONG TO JESUS. Verses 16 and 17 read. Just as we see the Holy Spirit appearing and God the Father speaking at the baptism of Jesus to tell the crowd that yes, Jesus belongs, he is God, so baptism tells us that we belong to Jesus. Baptism uses water to tell us and the world that we have family ties that go even beyond the blood we share with members of our physical family.
Romans 6:4-5 says, “Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his..”
We share in the life, death, and resurrection to Christ. Because he went through all of that for us, we belong to him. When Carol and I lived in Cincinnati, we attended one church the last three years we lived in the area. One couple we got to know well were Dan and Iris - they became almost like another set of parents to us. Dan and Iris had only one son, Roland. Roland and his wife, Shirley, have two sons - Paul and Kevin. For years, Iris would babysit her grandsons and keep house while Roland and Shirley were at work. Roland and Shirley were Christians, but Iris wanted to do her part to see that her grandsons served the Lord, too. I remember her telling us more than once of how she would tell Paul and Kevin that they needed to be Jesus-boys. That’s what baptism tells us - we are Jesus-men, Jesus-women, Jesus-boys, Jesus-girls. We belong to Jesus.
II. BAPTISM ALSO MEANS THAT JESUS BELONGS TO US. In verse 15, after John questions why he should baptize Jesus, Jesus tells him, (read). To fulfill all righteousness meant that Jesus would put into motion the plan of God that led to the cross and made possible the offer of salvation to whoever would call on the name of the Lord. In baptism, we are saying that we have called on his name, we have asked him to forgive us of our sins and save us, that Jesus belongs to us! What a glorious truth to experience every day of our walk with Jesus. There is a song I remember singing in church years ago. Part of it went:
Now I belong to Jesus; Jesus belongs to me!
Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.
Baptism is a witness to our own hearts and to all around us that Jesus does belong to us. Of course, if Jesus belongs to us, that means we will look like Jesus, talk like Jesus, act like Jesus. In Philippians 2:5, Paul tells us to “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Verses 6-11 gives us the various life-changing ways Jesus modeled the attitude we should have, and it is quite a challenge to think that when we belong to Jesus, we must identify more and more closely with him. I am glad, however, that God gives us a lifetime to continually learn more and more of what it means to be like Jesus.