Summary: A sermon for the First Sunday after the Epiphany, The Baptism of Jesus
First Sunday after the Epiphany
The Baptism of Jesus
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5 And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey.
7 And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
9 ¶ In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;
11 and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."RSV
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
Do you remember this introduction to a long ago favorite TV program, "Look , its bird, its a plane, its Superman. Superman who was faster than a speeding bullet, more power full than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, can bend steel in his bare hands. Disguised as Clark Kent the mild-mannered reporter for a large metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way."
As I was growing up that was one of my favorite programs. Superman had a long life. He was born in the comic books. I remember sitting in the barber shop hoping you had to wait a long time so you could read all the comics, he grew in television and matured in the movies. Superman always defended those who were powerless to defend themselves; he was responsible to bring justice to the land. Using his great power and strength and his x-ray vision he was able to subdued the guilty parties and bring them to jail.
One quality of superman, the superman of TV, that I especially liked was his gentle manner. There was some violence in his shows, but not like the kind we have today. He never killed’ and usually he tried to be very gentle. Superman was moved by emotions; but he always had a gentle touch, he was sensitive to human feelings. Superman showed us that the mighty, the powerful can also be tender, loving and caring.
I miss that kind of gentle goodness in the world today as we see people in the movies and on TV, shoot, kill, blow-up, people, places and things. I miss the calm, gentle, touch of Superman as he stood for justice in a way that brought justice along with goodness, kindness and compassion.
Our gospel lesson and a passage from Isaiah speak of another superman, one who would bring justice to the land. In Isaiah 42: 2-4 it says " he will not cry or lift up his voice or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will pot break and a dimly burning wick he will not quench."
In our gospel lesson, John the Baptist says; "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
This superman will be powerful, but in a gentle, loving, compassionate way. We are of course speaking of Jesus as he came to represent the Messiah, God’s chosen and powerful leader. Chosen to bring justice and peace into this world, chosen to bring freedom to the oppressed, but in a gentle and meek way.
The baptism of Jesus was his signal or sign to begin his pubic ministry. In this baptism performed by John, Jesus understood that his ministry of justice was to begin. And in this baptism, Jesus learned of this relationship with the Father.
He saw his ministry was a new beginning in his life and for the world, and he understood he was called to serve, called to serve with a gentle touch and a compassionate smile.
We are going to look at the relationship Jesus learned about himself and His Father in heaven this morning.
In this baptism experience, Jesus received a sign from his Father, assuring him of his new role, a sign assuring him he was about the plan of his Father, assuring him that the Father through the spirit would be with him as he began his public ministry. The text says, "10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;