Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: A sermon on the theology of baptism.

Matthew 3:13-17

“The Amazing Grace of Baptism”

By: Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport

News, VA

Why was Jesus baptized?

Scholars have debated this question over and over again , and have found no single


But it happened, and Jesus initiated it.

Jesus came to John the Baptist in order to be baptized.

The very fact that the Son of God would be baptized is startling.

Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Founder of the movement of


He was God-made-flesh, through whom everything was made.

Jesus needed no repentance; He was already perfectly righteous.

John the Baptist even recognized this ironic twist. John tried to deter Jesus and said, “I

need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

And Jesus’ response?

“Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

I admire people who stop along the road when others have mechanical failure.

We certainly saw a lot of that last week during the snow storm.

Three years ago, Jeanne, Ben and myself were driving back to Macon, Georgia from

Syracuse, NewYork when all of a sudden one of the tires blew-out on our car.

I had been coming upon an exit, so I drove the car and stopped it on the exit ramp in a

small town in Pennsylvania.

It was bitter cold, and snowing, and we did not have a spare tire.

So I got out of the car, and decided to try and flag down a passing motorist.

I was sure that this would take some time, but to my surprise, the first car that came


They had a cell phone, and allowed me to use it in order to call triple A.

What a moment of grace that was!

Within an hour or so we were back on the road with a new tire.

And in Christ’s baptism we a shocked by a moment of grace.

Through His baptism Jesus was making baptism possible and effective for human kind.

Christ purchased righteousness for us.

The righteousness that Christ fulfilled through His baptism is the very righteousness that

can stand and cover every one that follows Jesus in baptism.

What an act of grace!

And baptism is a window through which we can see the grace of God.

John saw it, and those around him saw it.

“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 upon him.”

At this moment, Christ was demonstrating the fullest extent of his humiliation in

becoming a human being. He had emptied Himself and as Phillipians chapter two says, He

“made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Christ was identifying with those of us He came to save, and He was insisting that all

who follow Him should be identified with Him through the sacrament of baptism.

In this moment of self-surrender, God spoke from heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom

I love; with him I am well pleased.”

And while Christ’s baptism did not have the same significance as our baptisms, there are

some points of commonality.

Both baptisms are acts of obedience through which the baptized experiences God’s grace

and favor.

It’s an affirmation that is both personal and public, and both the person being baptized

and the people who witness the baptism are made aware of God’s grace.

The difference between between Jesus’ baptism and our own is that Jesus had earned

God’s favor, and we have not and can not.

It is an experience of unmerited grace.

In a similar sense, my family and I did nothing to merit the person’s favor who decided to

stop and help us when we were stuck on the side of the road.

He didn’t know us from Adam. He just did it because he cared.

This is the way that God’s grace works.

There is nothing we can do on our own to earn it or deserve it--God just gives it to us

becasue He cares and He loves us beyond anything we can fathom.

And there is no real life or growth apart from God’s grace.

As human beings, we have some basic needs.

We need to be loved, we need to belong, and we need to feel as if we are important.

And through the grace of Christian baptism, God fulfills all these needs for us.

Baptism generally occurs at the beginning of our spiritual lives.

If we are baptized as infants, this is a sign of what John Wesley called God’s Prevenient


This is God’s grace that goes before us, that surrounds us by the community of faith, that

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Jerry Pawloski

commented on Jan 11, 2008

An excellent view of baptism and grace.

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