Joined to Jesus
Passage: Luke 3:15–3:22
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 3:15-22
Date: January 10th, 2016; Baptism of Our Lord; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Along with the crucifixion and resurrection, the Baptism of Our Lord is one of the most important events in Jesus’ life and ministry.
In a magnificent epiphany, the Father and the Holy Spirit tear the heavens apart in order to proclaim that Jesus is the promised Messiah.
The Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove to anoint Jesus as the Christ.
The Father acknowledged and proclaimed Jesus as his beloved Son.
This is a major event in the perfect life that Jesus led that makes it possible for us to become part of God's family as his adopted children.
Jesus began his ministry in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
There, he took on our humanity and, even though he never sinned, he began to experience the pain and the curse of sin at that time.
He endured the hardship and the frustration of sin just like we all do.
Up until the events recorded in today's Gospel, Jesus mostly carried out his life and ministry in a quiet and private way.
Our Gospel text picks up roughly 30 years after Jesus was born - and up until this time, we only know about a few events and people in his life: Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, Anna and Simeon, the magi, and the teachers of the law who were astonished by his learning when he came to the temple at the age of twelve.
That is about all the Bible tells us about the first thirty years of his life as a human being.
But, this all changed at his Baptism.
Jesus' ministry went from being private to public in a big way.
The Father proclaimed, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."
The Father's proclamation not only reaffirmed Jesus' identity as the Son of God, but it also proclaimed that he is the promised seed who would crush the serpent's head.
The Father's proclamation was not only an epiphany of the true nature of Jesus - it was also a battle cry that he is the Saviour of the world.
Jesus of Nazareth is the Saviour who will deliver the world from sin, death, and the power of the devil.
The Father's proclamation at Jesus’ Baptism was not just an identification - it was also a challenge. They were fighting words aimed at the devil.
And the devil has been challenging these words of the Father ever since.
As we read through the Gospels, we see that the challenges (the temptations) that the opposition brought against Jesus all had a common theme.
They all attacked the truth that Jesus really is the Son of God.
When the season of Lent starts, we will read how the devil tempted Jesus.
Two of the temptations begin with the words, "If you are the Son of God …"
Jesus was tempted as he hung suffering on the cross.
As Jesus hung on the cross, those who passed by ridiculed him, saying, "You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross."
Jesus’ identity was challenged and attacked from the time of his baptism to his crucifixion.
St. John wrote, "The Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God."
Jesus' enemies simply rejected the words of God the Father who clearly identified him as the promised Messiah.
Even today, people refuse to believe that Jesus Christ is God.
The devil has not stopped trying to separate us from God and his love for us.
He attempts to get us caught up in the cares of this world so that we ignore and forget about God.
He attempts to make us feel secure in how we live our lives so that we come to believe that we don’t need a saviour.
He attempts to make us feel so guilty over our sins and failures that we fear God and try to run away from him.
In these, and so many other ways, the devil works hard to separate us from God.
But God has not left us alone to fight.
In fact, it is in the very act of baptism that Jesus joins himself to you.
As we heard in our Epistle lesson, "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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."
Through your baptism, you have been joined to Christ. You belong to God.
In your baptism you were consecrated, set apart, made holy in the holiness of Jesus.
In your baptism you are remade. You are a new creation.
Our bodies that suffer illness, pain, and finally death - are promised an Easter resurrection.
You are one who is marked with the sign of the cross.
You are one who has been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
You are one whose sins have been washed away and forgiven.
You are a child of God - adopted through the miracle of Holy Baptism.
Just as God the Father spoke the words over Jesus at his baptism: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" so he spoke those words over you when you were baptized.
You are God’s son. You are God’s daughter.
For the sake of Jesus he freely gives you salvation, the gift of eternal life, received by grace through faith.
In Christ, you are God’s child, he loves you, and with you he is well pleased. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.