Summary: This is a series of three mini-sermons to be preached with the lessons of the day for the Baptism of Jesus Sunday (Isaiah 43:1-7; Romans 6:1-11; Luke 3:15-22). It works well to have the reader read the lessons during the sermon.
This morning’s sermon is going to be a little different as we celebrate the Baptism of Christ. I say a little different because as we look at Jesus Baptism, and by way of that, our own baptism and what it means to us, we’ll find that each of our Bible lessons (Isaiah and Romans, and of course, the Gospel from Luke) has very important things to teach us and tell us. So instead of having one sermon, we’re going to have three little sermons following each of the readings. The theme that unites all these little sermons is going to be found in the first verse of the Isaiah reading: “I have called you by name, you are mine.”
So with that being said, let’s hear our first reading (INSERT ISAIAH 43:1-7)
So you may be asking, “What do these verses have to do with Baptism?” And that would be a good question! These verses are important because they help us understand something very fundamental, even foundational to any talk of what Baptism is, and means, and does. And that boils down to one very important word: RELATIONSHIP.
The truth is that God takes his relationship with his people very seriously, he always has. In fact, he created this universe, and galaxy, and solar system, and planet, and all the plants, and animals, the sun, the moon, the oceans, and every plain and valley, because of his love for you, and his desire to have a relationship with you. Think about that. None of this is an accident. You are no accident, or some lucky roll of the evolutionary dice. You were created by a creator. You were knit together in your mother’s womb as Psalm 139 says. And God wants to know you, to have you know him, to be in relationship with one another.
These verses from Isaiah are so amazing because God wants his people all the way back in the Isaiah’s day to know this, and to be reminded of this. And not because they have been so wonderfully awesome and Godly, not at all! God wants them to know how much he loves them right in the middle of their worst hour. In the chapter right before our reading, God has Isaiah speak to the spiritual deafness, and blindness of his people, and how they have openly, and brashly sinned against the God.
But he them immediately has these words for them. But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
What God is saying is, I know what you’ve done, I know your sin, I know you’ve turned from me, but I STILL claim you as my own. I STILL proudly tell the world that it is I who created you, and formed you. EVEN NOW I want you to know that I redeemed you and saved you. EVEN NOW I have called you by name, and know who you are, YOU ARE MINE.
Do you see what I mean when I say that God takes his relationship with you so seriously? And God’s love isn’t like any other kind of love. His relationship, his love for you isn’t something that comes and goes, or rises and falls. His love for you is like the relentless waves of the ocean, that day after day, hour after hour, come crashing down on shore as they have since God created the oceans, and will until he takes you home.
Relationship with God is something you have because of God’s love for you. It’s what you have because of Christ death to pay for your sins. It’s what you have because Christ rose from the dead never to die again, and to open to you the way of eternal life. If you think, not of your best day, but of the day, of the moment when you were most ashamed, where you felt the heaviest weight of sin, where you felt more lost than you ever had. It is in this exact moment when God said to you, and says to you, what he said to his people so many years ago. “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you… Fear not, for I am with you.” Amen.
Now for our Second Reading (INSERT ROMANS 6:1-11)
When we begin to understand how seriously God takes his relationship with us, we begin to understand how important baptism is, and the blessings that God gives us in our baptism are. Over the history of Christianity, there have been many instances where people have lost sight of what is really important about Baptism, and have argued or focused too much on details, or myths, or human opinions.