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Up from the Water

Matthew 3:13-17

Rev. Kurt Hering

Baptism of Our Lord
Trinity Lutheran Church  
Layton, Utah


right-click to download MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 

Preached to the saints at Trinity Lutheran Church of Layton, Utah.

Whether creation, the Flood, the Red Sea, Holy Baptism, or in the resurrected kingdom of heaven, it is the Word of God that brings life and salvation—the Word that stepped into the Jordan River to be baptized and take on the sins of the world—of Adam and Eve, of Noah and his family, of the Israelites, of the Samaritan woman, of you and me.

And since it is the Word with the water that does these things, though the water has dried from your head and brow, the Word of that living water of Holy Baptism continues to flow from the font of Christ's Church—not just over your head, but over your soul and throughout your spirit.

To hear the entire sermon preached for the Baptism of Our Lord, click on the MP3 audio link provided above.

The audio begins with the Old Testament Reading. The sermon begins at the 17:50 point of the mp3 file.

A servant of the Word and His folk,

Pastor Hering

For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript follows below.

TEXT: 16And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:16-17

Since the very beginning God has been bringing wonderful things "Up from the Water."

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2

• 75% earth is covered with water

• 96 % of that is saltwater leaving only about 4% fresh water—half frozen, half in groundwater, lakes, rivers, streams

• Body starts out 75% water

• Average is @ 60%

• the brain is 75% water, blood is 83% water, bones are 22% water, muscles are 75% water, and the lungs are 90% water.

• Water is essential for the efficient elimination of waste products through the kidneys.

• Water regulates body temperature (through perspiration).

• Water serves a lubricant; water forms the fluids surrounding joints and bones, providing cushioning for the joints.

• Water prevents and alleviates constipation (by moving food through the intestines and eliminating waste products).

• Water helps the body to absorb nutrients in the intestines.

• Water plays a role in regulating metabolism.

• Water forms the base for saliva (necessary for consuming and digesting food).

• Water carries nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body and facilitates all of the chemical processes which occur in the body.

• Water plays a role in the prevention of disease.

• At least 2 qts./day

• Up to 75% U.S. population is dehydrated

• A decrease of as little as 2% in our body's water supply can have harmful effects and cause symptoms of dehydration, such as daytime fatigue, excess thirst, fuzzy memory, difficulty focusing on tasks and simple math, lightheadedness, and nausea.

• It has been estimated that 75% of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration (excessive daytime fatigue is the major symptom).

• A reduction of 4-5% in body water can result in a 20-30% decrease in work and exercise performance.

• A 10% decrease in water will produce significant health risks.

• A week without water will surely result in death.

• Caffeine, alcohol, sugar, sugar substitutes, even fruit juices either act as diuretic or tax the body and its water supply.

So we see how important and precious water is to life.

Indeed, since the very beginning God has been bringing life and salvation "Up from the Water." And it is no wonder or accident that our planet and our bodies have so much water. It is the way we were created.—in the beginning a perfect balance in our bodies and a perfect supply in our world. Now, in this world cursed by sin, not so much.

The Flood.

The Red Sea.

Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well: Jesus thirsted

Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them,

nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,

and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:16-17

So water is important in both God's creation of the world and life, but in its new creation, its rebirth. We have water associated with life from beginning to end; from Genesis to Revelation; for life now and even eternity.

Jesus provides this living water even to us now today in Holy Baptism. Because He submitted to Baptism, He has made all water holy and fit for Baptism.

How can this be? Isn't water filled with all sorts of filth and impurities and toxins?

Yes, but by His stepping into the muddy Jordan River and being baptized by John, Jesus took on all the filth and impurities and toxins into Himself—not the physical filth and impurities and toxins that pollute the waters of the world, but the spiritual filth and impurities and toxins that pollute the soul and the very nature of man and the wages of which is death.

Even more the filth and impurities and toxins that pollute our waters can be deadly to us if not filtered and treated, and just as the filth and impurities and toxins that build up in our bodies eventually dehydrate us and lead to death, the spiritual filth and impurities and toxins of sin are deadly to us. And even more than the caffeine, alcohol, sugar and fizz we add to our water, the things we do to make God's Word less blah, more appealing, more exciting; to make sweet what is meant to be bitter or somehow sweeten that which is already as sweet as it can get—these things actually rob us of the living water God means to give us in all its purity and introduce more toxins into our spiritual lives. 

So Jesus steps into the River Jordan to provide a cleansing flood for us, not [as we learn from the Small Catechism about the Sacrament of Holy Baptism Part 1, a cleansing flood that is] "just plain water, but it is the water included in God's command and combined with God's Word. [As] Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

By this living water the Holy Spirit He sends [as per SC HB Pt. 2], "works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. [As] Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe not will be condemned."

[Yet, as per SC HB Pt. 3] "[It is] certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water [that] does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in, Titus, chapter three: He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying."

Yes, it is the Word in and with the water that does these things—from beginning to end; from Genesis to Revelation; for life now and even eternity—by which God has been bringing life and salvation "Up from the Water."

Whether creation, the Flood, the Red Sea, Holy Baptism, or in the resurrected kingdom of heaven, it is the Word of God that brings life and salvation—the Word that stepped into the Jordan River to be baptized and take on the sins of the world—of Adam and Eve, of Noah and his family, of the Israelites, of the Samaritan woman, of you and me.

And since it is the Word with the water that does these things, though the water has dried from your head and brow, the Word of that living water of Holy Baptism continues to flow from the font of Christ's Church—not just over your head, but over your soul and throughout your spirit.

So, we believe, teach, confess, and live [according to SC HB Pt. 4]: [that] such baptizing with water indicates "that the old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. [As] St. Paul writes in Romans, chapter 6: We were therefore buried with Him through Baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

God grant that it ever be so in the Holy Christian Church for all the Baptized, for you and for me, that we live as His children who have been brought up from the water with Christ, in the new life that is forgiven and delivered from all of our sins and sent out into the world to live with our families, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students, and friends in that forgiveness that delivers them from of all of their sins—in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.



Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.



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