Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We are in the season of Epiphany, that is, the manifestation of the power and glory of God in Jesus Christ. On the first Sunday of Epiphany, we celebrated the visit of the Magi. Guided by a star, they were the first foreigners who saw the Word made flesh in Bethlehem. They worshiped Him and offered gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.
Another manifestation that we remember today is the Baptism of our Lord by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. We spoke of John the Baptist in the season of Advent. The cousin of Jesus born six months earlier, John knew Jesus as a relative, but he did not know Him as the Messiah until Jesus came to him to be baptized.
The four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell the same story, but from different perspectives with different details. Only Matthew and Luke talk about the birth of Jesus, for example. However, they all speak of the Baptism of Jesus. With this baptism the public ministry of Jesus began. Before His baptism, Jesus lived in Nazareth and grew up as the son of Mary and Joseph the carpenter, working with Joseph in his carpenter’s shop. One day, Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized.
John preached the Law and the promise of a Savior. He called people to repentance to prepare for the coming of the Savior. The washing in the river was a sign of repentance. According to Saint Matthew, when Jesus came to John, John told him that He had no sin, so He did not have to repent. It would be better if Jesus were to baptize John. But, Jesus said to John, this is the will of God. Therefore, John baptized Him and heaven opened and a voice said, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." And the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove. The three persons of the Holy Trinity were present at the Baptism of Jesus: the voice from heaven was God the almighty Father, the Holy Spirit was present in the form of a dove, and the Son in the person of Jesus.
In our text for today we have the eyewitness testimony of John the Baptist, written by John the Apostle, however, it is the testimony of the Baptist. Thus said John: "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is what I said: After me comes a man, who is preferred over me: because he was before me. "
John was born before Jesus, but he told them Jesus was before himself. He did not speak of Jesus as the son of man, but the Son of God. John did not preach to the people by his own authority, or by his own word, but by the prophetic Word of God. With their own eyes he saw the fulfillment of the Word of God.
"And John gave testimony, saying: I saw the Spirit that came down from heaven as a dove, and rested on him. And I did not know him; But he who sent me to baptize with water, he said to me: On whom you see the Spirit descending, and resting on him, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I saw him, and I have borne witness that this is the Son of God. "
Because of the presence of all the persons of the Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus, the church baptizes in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. At His baptism, the Father gave Jesus the authority to proclaim the forgiveness of sins, also to send the Holy Spirit to His church to fulfill its mission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus won the promise of forgiveness in His death and resurrection. After ascending to heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father, the Father and the Son sent the Spirit to be poured out on the church gathered in Jerusalem with the sound of the strong wind and tongues of fire on their heads. And on that day the apostles baptized three thousand people.
When the church baptizes, each time it has the same authority that the Father gave to Jesus in His baptism, and Jesus delivered to His church on the day of Pentecost. In each baptism, the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit again. New life begins at baptism. Through baptism, we have adoption as children of God and we are members of the communion of saints.
But, look, the public ministry of Jesus began with the manifestation of the triune God, but it was only the beginning of His path to the cross. After His suffering and death, He rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven. For us, too, the new life in Christ begins with the manifestation of the Holy Trinity, but we have a way ahead of us, to fulfill the purpose for which God has given us the gift of life and the gift of faith. One day we will be resurrected as our Lord, but until that day, let us live in hope as witnesses of the gospel. It does not matter if we live a few years or more than a hundred years, our reward is eternal life by the grace of God. We will remain in the Word and the sacrament of the Holy Supper until that day. In this we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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