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The Word Saves You

Matthew 3:13-17

Rev. John F. Wurst

The Baptism of our Lord
The Lutheran Church of Christ the King  
Duluth, Minnesota

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Jan 13, 2013 

"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2)

Matthew 3:13-17

The Baptism of our Lord

In the Name of the Father and + of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Upon conception in the womb, you lived for nine months in the dark. Your mother provided for all your needs. She was your life. Her life gave you life through the umbilical cord. You were alive and dead at the same time.

When you cam forth from the world, you knew nothing different; you were still in the dark. You did not recognize the light. You are a sinner. You're no different from the rest of the world. You're defiant and rebellious in every way. I would like to think that when you first cried, you were crying for mercy.

The world looked at you at thought, how beautiful, how cute, how innocent. The truth is even as a newborn baby, you deserved the wrath of God against your sins. You needed a Savior just like the rest of the world.

When you were about 13, you probably began going to catechism class with the pastor. He taught you about Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. In the Small Catechism, you learn to confess that Holy Baptism washes away and forgives sins, that the Old Adam "should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires." So, naturally, it begs the question: why is the Lord Jesus Baptized? He is sinless. He is perfect. You need to be Baptized to be saved. Jesus comes to you.

Jesus comes to you in the flesh. He descended from heaven and took on your flesh. He became true man for you because you cannot save yourself. This is the purpose of His Incarnation. Apart from Jesus, you are lost and condemned. All of your sins, acts of false worship, lusts, and perversions are the stench that alienate you from God forever.

Hell is a sewer, filled not with waste, but with the excrement of your sins and the sins of the world. Hell is filled with your shame, your guilt, and your evils. Condemned there, you are unable to escape, unable to free yourself, unable to do anything but wallow in your own muck and filth. Locked in the prison of eternal death, hell awaits your soul because of your sins.

Now, back to your catechetical lessons on the Small Catechism. Listen to Jesus. Listen and hear His story that He lived on your behalf. Listen to how the Word made flesh wades through the sewer and every vile and evil thing man has ever done and Jesus stands there with you, shoulder to shoulder, Brother at brothers side.

He comes to be numbered among the sinners, to be numbered with you. He comes to take all of your disease and filth upon and into Himself. The Lord Jesus comes to rescue you from the stinking pit of death.

In Holy Baptism, the Word made flesh for you, Jesus Christ, took you and killed the old Adam with each of you by drowning him in the water grave. He crushed him like He crushed the serpent's head on the cross. Jesus drowned your evil foe and pulled you out and gave you life. Jesus resurrected you on that holy day.

Martin Luther teaches you to daily remember your Baptism and drown that old Adam through the confession of sins. The Word of God kills that monster every time you say, I a poor miserable sinner confess unto Thee all my sins and iniquities.

The Word of God convicts you of your sins. It reveals them in all their ugliness, filth, and vile. The Good News is that Jesus doesn't leave you kneeling by your bed guilty. He pronounces His forgiveness to you. He declares you not guilty of your sins because, as Jesus tells you in the Bible, this is the very reason He came into the world; to save the lost and condemned. He came to save you.

In Holy Baptism, Jesus washed away all your sins. His Blood covered your soul. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Jesus is your salvation. He stepped into your place and your filth, shame, guilt, sins were heaped upon His shoulders. He carried your sins all the way to Mount Calvary where He was laid upon the holy altar, naked, hungry, thirsty, shamed, beaten, and most of all, innocent for you.

On that altar, the Lamb of God was crucified as the final sacrifice to God the Father for the sins of the world. Jesus hung there, in your place, dying your death, to save you from eternal condemnation. Jesus died that Good Friday all alone, forsaken by His Father, to atone for your sins. He gave up His last breath to restore the communion between you and His Father who is in heaven.

Now, Baptized into Christ Jesus, you live to the glory of the Father. You live because Jesus is re-creating you in His image. Jesus has given you your bridal gown. He put it on you when He gave you life from above in Baptism. He dressed you in the finest of garments; His righteousness.

You were anointed on that holy day with the Holy Spirit just as jesus was in His Baptism. You are now numbered among the saints in the kingdom of God because of Jesus and His all availing sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.

You are God's children. Raise your voices before the throne and declare the freedom Jesus secured for you by declaring and confessing before the world, I am Baptized into Christ!

Jesus died to forgive your sins. He forgave your sins in Holy Baptism. He continues to forgive you daily by His Word that kills the old Adam in you. Jesus continually tells you of your salvation that He earned for you.

Rejoice! Your sins are forgiven you. Your name is written in the Book of Life. Believe on the Name of Jesus and you will receive the inheritance promised you in Holy Baptism.

In the Name of the Father and + of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

+ SDG +

(C) Rev. John F. Wurst

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