Summary: You Know What Happened After Jesus’ Baptism 1) Marvel at Jesus’ love for all. 2) Reflect Jesus’ love for all.
I’m sure it’s happened to you. You’ve borrowed a DVD from the library and you invest forty-five minutes in that movie when it stops, skips, and then goes back to the beginning. In spite of your best efforts you can’t get the movie to advance properly. It looks like it’s going to be another movie for which you won’t know the ending.
What if the record of Jesus’ life was like a scratched DVD? In a way it is. Last Sunday we heard about the Magi visiting baby Jesus in Bethlehem. A week later we’re already hearing about how the adult Jesus is being baptized in the Jordan River. What happened to the intervening 30 years? While the Holy Spirit didn’t see fit to leave us a record of Jesus’ life as a boy, other than telling us about his visit to the temple as a 12-year-old, we know the important scenes in Jesus’ life. We know what happened after Jesus’ baptism – how Jesus died for all and then rose to life. How different our lives would be if we didn’t know the ending to Jesus’ life! Without the knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection, our lives would seem and be hopeless. But Jesus has risen! You know this but so should others. Our text today therefore leads us to marvel at Jesus’ love for all and to reflect this love for all.
It may surprise you to learn that the fact that God loves all people was news to the Apostle Peter. Sure, Jesus had told his disciples that they would be his witnesses to the ends of the world but had they imagined this simply meant going to scattered Jewish settlements in places like Egypt and Rome? It seemed so because Peter’s worldview was shattered by a vision God gave him in the coastal city of Joppa. In this vision Peter saw a picnic blanket float down from heaven on which there were animals that Old Testament Jews were not supposed to eat. But in that vision God told Peter to do just that. Not only was it now OK for Jews like Peter to enjoy a ham and pineapple pizza, they could now mix and mingle with non-Jews. In fact that’s why God sent Peter this vision because he was preparing him to accept the invitation of a Roman centurion named Cornelius who had himself seen a vision and was directed by an angel to invite Peter to his house.
Cornelius and his family were believers in the true God but they didn’t realize yet that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Oh, Cornelius had heard about the miracles Jesus had performed. He even seemed to know about Jesus’ death, but he didn’t know the rest of the story. He didn’t know that Jesus had risen from the dead! I don’t think (my wife) Sarah would have looked forward to going to her grandmother’s funeral recently if she thought that Jesus was still dead. If he is still dead, what comfort would her grandmother’s pastor have been able to give Sarah’s family? What would be the sense of those familiar words of Psalm 23: “…even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” Without Jesus’ resurrection we would have every reason to fear the valley of the shadow of death because that’s one valley that we would never be able to climb out of.
But Jesus did rise again. His victory is our victory. Peter put it like this for Cornelius: “…[Jesus] went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil…” (Acts 10:38) When Peter says that Jesus healed all who were under the power of the devil he’s talking about more than physical healing. For Jesus did not heal every blind, lame, and deaf person in the world. But what he did do was heal everyone under the power of the devil. How? Well what is it that the devil has over us? It’s our sins, isn’t it? Like a blackmailer with dirty pictures he uses our sins to accuse us before God as people who are deserving of hell. If Satan had been lurking around your home this morning before church with a digital camera, how many angry faces would he have captured? How many unkind words would he have caught on video? With glee he would show these to God saying, “See, you can’t say these are your precious children. Look at how they treat one another!” But do you what our heavenly Father would say in response?” He would say, “Look again, Satan. Those aren’t the faces of my beloved children. That’s my Son you’ve captured and I’ve already punished him for those sins…”
I’m often reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf as I drive around in the dead of winter. I wonder what it would feel like to be my car. Seriously. If cars had feelings, would they appreciate being taken out in such cold weather? Would they look forward to racing through snow and sleet and having mud sprayed on their front hoods while we keep toasty warm and dry inside? Cars, of course, don’t have feelings but our Savior does. Marvel at his love for you that he would willingly endure God’s cold shoulder over your sins so that you may enjoy the Father’s warm embrace! As the frame of your car shelters you from the elements, so Jesus’ love enfolds you and unflinchingly protects you from the punishment your sins deserve.