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The Baptism Of Our Lord

Mark 1:4–11

James T. Batchelor

Epiphany 1, series B
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Jan 11, 2015 

As we listened to todays Gospel, we once again heard about John the Baptist.  We heard that he was baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  Did you hear those words?  John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  Johns message is consistent with the words Jesus gave to His church on the day He rose from the dead. [Luke 24:4547] Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations. Even though Jesus will give these words to the church years after John the Baptist died, Johns message is still consistent with these words.  He proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

How did people respond to these words?  In todays Gospel we heard that all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  People responded to Johns proclamation by confessing their sins.  These people repented of their sins and received forgiveness.  That is what we heard in todays Gospel.

But then something really odd happened.  Jesus came for baptism.  Now remember, this is a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  The thing is that the Bible tells us that Jesus never sinned.  We heard John himself in todays Gospel, saying, After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write, [1 Peter 2:22] He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. The Holy Spirit also inspired John the Evangelist to write, [1 John 3:5] In him there is no sin. It would seem that Jesus had no need to repent.  It would seem that He had no need for forgiveness.  Here is the perfect Son of God getting down into the water with John.  Why?  Why should the sinless Son of God receive a sinners baptism from a sinner like John?

The answer comes from the words of the Apostle Paul.  By the power of the Holy Spirit he wrote, [2 Corinthians 5:21] For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Even though Jesus never sinned, He God declared Him to be a sinner not with His sin, but with your sin and my sin.  The sin that Jesus carried into that baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins was the sin that He took away from us.

Yes, Jesus became one of us.  He took on all that has gone wrong with us every sin.  By taking our sin onto Himself, He becomes the greatest sinner.  He becomes the greatest sinner so that He could become our only savior.  He takes His place under our sin, so that He could lift it from us and carry it away.  He carried our sin away from us so that the punishment for that sin will not fall on us, but on Him.  That is how God has decided that His judgment and His righteousness should go.  Jesus should take our sin to Himself with all its condemnation, guilt, and punishment.  God turns His friendly face to us because Jesus became one of us and took our sin on Himself.

So it is that Jesus submits to the Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  He repents of your sin.  He undergoes the sinners baptism for sinners.  Jesus stands with us in the waters of a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

From the moment that the single cell of Divine humanity came to be in the womb of the Virgin, the Son of God has carried the sins of the world.  Up until this moment of baptism, He carried our sins in silent anonymity.  Now, at His baptism, His role as sin bearer becomes public.  The heavens were torn open.  The Spirit descended on him like a dove.  A voice came from heaven, You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. The time has come for Jesus to publicize His journey a journey that will pass through the cross where He will take away the sin of the world a journey that will also pass through the empty tomb of Christs resurrection that demonstrates His power over death.  God the Father is pleased with His Son as He continues this journey of salvation.

The Baptism of Jesus is an epiphany of Jesus to John and his followers but it is more than that.  This is an epiphany of the entire Trinity.  Thus we see that while it is the Son of God who takes on our human flesh in order to redeem us, it is the entire Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are involved in our redemption.

This epiphany of the Triune God shows us the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within the Triune God.  You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. This is a statement that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relate to one another in love.  As the Apostle John states in His letter, [1 John 4:8, 16] God is love. At Jesus baptism the heavens were torn open as the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit brought heaven down to earth to unite heaven and earth to heal our relationship with Him.

The fact that the heavens were torn open tells us that the heavens were closed.  The heavens were closed because our love for God was broken.  The intimate loving relationship we see within the epiphany of the Triune God reminds us that our love toward God has grown cold.  The Law states, [Deuteronomy 6:5] You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Never the less, we look for love from the gods of our own making.  Very often the god we worship is the one we see in the mirror.  It is our pleasure our wants our desires that are at the center of our lives.  God desires our relationship with Him to be like the relationship between a bride and a groom, but we often commit spiritual adultery and pursue the gods of our own desires.

The Baptism of Jesus reveals the plan of God to restore this love to heal our relationship with Him to open heaven to us once again.  Here we see the Son of God in the flesh in order to take our place under the law.  Here stands the sinless Son of God who carries in Him the sin of the entire world.  Here is Jesus standing with us in the waters of baptism in order that we might be joined to Him in eternity.

In todays epistle the Apostle Paul tells us that in baptism we are united to Christ.  He states, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

The voice from heaven said, You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. This is God the Father expressing delight in God the Son.  This is God the Father expressing delight in us as well.  For Jesus journey through the cross and the open tomb earned salvation for us.  Through baptism, the Holy Spirit joined us to Christ Jesus.  All that is ours belongs to Him, and all that is His belongs to us.  So God delights in us just as He delights in Jesus.  In a world that has long ago surrendered to sin, death, and the devil, there is one place where we receive the delight of God.  That is where we are in solidarity with Jesus who heard the Father say, You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

Do you live where Christ is?  For God has put His name on you too.  He put His name on you when water was joined to Gods word according to Christs command.  He put His name on you at baptism.  You are not just a mish-mash of organic molecules.  Through baptism, Jesus is in solidarity with you and you with Him.  Because you are in Him and because He is the beloved son, you are also beloved.  You are never alone.  Jesus is in solidarity with you and you are in solidarity with Him in the water at the cross at the resurrection.  You are in solidarity with Christ into eternity.  Amen

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