The Baptism of Our Lord
Passage: Matthew 3:13–3:17
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 3:15-22
Date: January 13, 2013; Baptism of Our Lord; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Along with Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter - 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 proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah.
The Holy Spirit descended 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 to make it possible for us to become part of God's family for eternity.
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 miserable consequences of sin just like we all do.
Even though he never sinned, he experienced and carried the sin of the world from the very beginning of his existence as a human being.
Up until the events in today's Gospel, Jesus more or less carried out his life and ministry in a quiet, private way.
Our Gospel lesson picks up roughly 30 years after Christmas.
And up until this point 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’s about all we learn of the first thirty years of Jesus’ life in the Bible.
It’s really not very much when you consider who he is and what he has done for all of humanity.
But this all changed at the Baptism of our Lord.
Jesus' ministry went from 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 at Jesus' Baptism not only re-affirmed Jesus' identity as the Son of God, but it also proclaimed that he was the promised seed who would crush the serpent's head.
The Father's proclamation was not only an epiphany (a clear revelation) of the true nature of Jesus - it was also a battle cry that this is the Saviour of the world.
The Saviour who will deliver the world from sin, death, and 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 ever since.
In the Gospels we see that the challenges (the temptations) that Jesus faced all had a common theme.
They 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 …” (Matthew 4:3,6).
The temptations attack the identity of Jesus as God - the identity that the Father proclaimed at Jesus' Baptism.
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” (Matthew 27:40).
Jesus’ identity as the promised Messiah was attacked by those who opposed him 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" (John 5:8).
Jesus' enemies simply rejected the words from God the Father that are recorded in today's Gospel lesson.
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 and hide from him.
In these, and in 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” (Romans 6:3-4).
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.
Forgiven for the sake of Christ.
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. When you were made a child of God in those blessed waters.
For the sake of Jesus he freely gives you salvation and we receive it by grace through faith.
The Holy Spirit has worked faith in us that we trust in what God has done for us and promised us.
Always remember and rejoice in the truth that for the sake of Jesus, you are a child whom God loves and with whom he is well pleased.
“So use it well! You are made new – in Christ a new creation!” Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.