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The road from death to life

Matthew 3:13-17

Pastor David Ernst

Second Sunday of Epiphany
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Jan 13, 2019 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior.

We are at a transition point. The church has a calendar to review all of Christ's life in one year. The new ecclesiastical year did not begin on the first day of January, but in November 2018 with the Advent season, when we prepared for the celebration of Christmas with reflection and repentance. On Christmas Eve, December 24, the days of Christmas began, which continued until January 6. On that date we began the season of Epiphany, but at the same moment we finished the celebration of Christmas.

Because the focus of the first day of Epiphany is the visit of the Magi, which is part of the story of the birth of Jesus, but it is also an "epiphany" or revelation of the divinity of Jesus Christ. On that day, representatives of the kings of the world, led by the star of Bethlehem, visited the Child Jesus and worshiped Him.

Well, each of the four gospels has its own emphasis and details of the life of Jesus. In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we find the account of the Magi and the slaughter of the children of Bethlehem. In the Gospel according to Luke, we find more details of His birth in Bethlehem and the visit of the shepherds. Also, only the Gospel of Luke talks about the episode of Joseph and Mary's journey to Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 years old. His parents lost Him, then they found Him in the Temple with the scribes and teachers of the Scriptures. The Gospel according to St. John speaks of the mystery of the Incarnation in poetic and philosophical language. Saint Mark does not say anything about the birth and childhood of Jesus.

Mark begins the story of Jesus with the preaching of John the Baptist and the baptism of our Lord. The others also mention this event, because it is so important. With His baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus began His public ministry. For 30 years, Jesus lived in Nazareth as the Son of Mary and Joseph the carpenter, working in Joseph's carpentry. He grew in favor with God and men, but men did not consider Jesus as a prophet or anything else. However, Jesus was born in this world with a mission, to save the human race from eternal death. His baptism was the beginning of His true work.

John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, was born six months before Jesus, and before the public ministry of Jesus he began his preaching and baptism of repentance in the Jordan River. John prepared the way for Jesus with a message of repentance. "The Lord is coming soon," said John, the last prophet of the Old Testament, who prophesied the first coming of Jesus, and called the people Israel to the baptism of repentance to draw near the Lord on the day of His arrival. The Jews practiced baptism, or washing, for purification of actual sins, specific sins. But John did not speak of outward acts of disobedience, but of the state of the rebellious human heart. Everyone should be baptized, because they were all sinners in the eyes of God.

"Then Jesus came from Galilee to John to the Jordan, to be baptized by him. But John resisted him, saying: I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?” Because John had said of Jesus, “I indeed baptize you in water for repentance; but he who comes after me is mightier than I; whose shoes I am not worthy to wear; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire. " But Jesus answered and said to him, “Let it be done, for we must fulfill all righteousness in this way. "

Our psalm (Psalm 45: 7-9) says the Lord loves righteousness and the Old Testament reading (Isaiah 42: 1-7) says of the Lord's chosen one, "I have put my Spirit upon Him, He will bring judgment to the nations " Jesus brought us justice in this way: He fulfilled the law in our places and sacrificed Himself to satisfy the justice of God and to cover us with his righteousness.

We speak in the catechism class about the state of humilliation of the Son of God, which began when He was born of the Virgin Mary. The Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, existed before the creation of the world, and for Him and by Him all creation was made, as St. John says in the first chapter of his gospel. He was in the beginning with God and He was God, but in the incarnation He put aside his divinity to be born as one of us. This baptism of John was the next stage in His humiliation, as Jesus was placed under the judgment of God in our places.

But something different happened at the baptism of Jesus. The others baptized by John came up out of the water to await the coming of the Lord. When Jesus came up out of the water, God revealed His presence in all three persons of the Holy Trinity.  “And here is a voice from heaven saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am content." What does the reading of Isaiah say? "Behold my servant, I will sustain him; my chosen in whom my soul has contentment.” Who spoke? "Thus says the LORD God, the Creator of the heavens, and the one who unfolds them; He who extends the earth and its fruit; he who gives breath to the people who dwell on it, and spirit to those who walk through it.” All the persons of the Holy Trinity were involved in creation, but we think first of God Almighty Father as Creator of heaven and earth. Of whom did the Father speak? His beloved Son incarnated as Jesus.

"And he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and coming upon him." So, all the persons of the Trinity were present at the baptism of Jesus, in an audible or visible way. This was an epiphany, revelation of the divinity of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

Therefore, the public ministry of Jesus began with the anointing of water and the Holy Spirit. After His baptism, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Jesus passed the tests, rejected the abuse of His office for materialism, vainglory or political power. And he began to call His disciples and preach the good news of the restoration of a good relationship between men and God. This restoration was accomplished in His death on the cross and his resurrection on the third day. The whole purpose of Jesus' life was His death and resurrection. At His baptism he began to walk from life to death to earn a living for us.

In our baptism, then, we begin to walk from death to eternal life. Last Sunday Jesuly and Joshua received the gift of faith and the promise of eternal life by the Holy Spirit, equal to each one of us who are baptized. But, not only the Holy Spirit, but also the Father and the Son were present in the baptism of each one of us, as in the baptism of our Lord. At the command of our Lord, we baptize with water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and we also make the sign of the cross. Because of the death of Jesus we have this promise. As St. Paul says, we are baptized into the death of Jesus to share in the resurrection of Jesus.

At the time of physical death, when old Adam finally dies, our spirit will return to God to wait for the final day, when we will be resurrected body and soul. We believe in this promise not by our own strength, but by the strength of the Holy Spirit. Faith is the gift of the Spirit for us. Baptism does not mean our decision to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. He is our Lord and Savior, whether we believe this or not. We can reject this gift, but we can not receive it without the action of the Spirit, which does not depend on our merits.

Therefore, we baptize children as adults, because we are all equal in our state of sin and our weakness before God. In addition, our Lord tells us, you let the children approach me, because such is the kingdom of God. As the baby trusts in the arms of his parents, we all trust in the love and grace of God.

We are baptized into the death of Christ, also through baptism we receive the body and blood of Christ. In baptism we begin the path of the altar. We do not communicate the infants because of the warning that all should receive the Holy Supper with dignity. What does it mean, in the recognition of their sins, and the presence of the body and blood of Christ in, under and with the bread and wine. However, the purpose of baptism is to bring the believer to the Lord's Supper after a period of instruction.

These are the gifts of God that Christ won for us in his public ministry. In the Word and the sacraments we have the promise of eternal life and the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

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