The Baptism of Our Lord
Passage: Mark 1:4–1:11
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Mark 1:4-11
Date: January 7th, 2018; The Baptism of Our Lord; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We spend a lot of our time in this life attempting to please others.
As children, we want to please our parents so that we stay out of trouble and maybe get an allowance.
We want to please our teachers and professors so that we get good grades.
When we are older we want to please our employers, and customers, so that we keep our jobs and get a paycheque.
This seems to be the way the world works. Please others. Get what you want.
Some view pleasing God in this way as well.
They believe that if they show up for church, or if they give money to charity, or if they do some good deeds – then they are pleasing God and he will give them what they want.
It’s a common belief that you need to do a bunch of good stuff to make God pleased with you.
In fact, this appears to be the "default" view of God.
All religions teach this - that is, with the exception of Christianity.
It’s the way things work in our world - so it seems natural that it would be that way with God, right?
Many popular preachers teach this formula - Do this, decide this, accept this, just give this - and God will bless you.
It seems reasonable. It seems correct.
But, it’s terribly wrong. It’s deadly wrong.
And how blessed we are that our relationship with God isn’t based on our pleasing him with our good works.
We get a glimpse of how our relationship with God works when we consider the relationship between parents and their child.
When a child is born the parents have not yet had the chance to meet the baby – with the exception of maybe a few kicks here or there.
The baby has not done anything to please the parents – there hasn’t been the chance!
But the minute, the second, that child is born – the parents love and cherish their new born baby.
The parent’s love is not the result of the baby pleasing them with a bunch of good deeds, or anything else.
The child is simply the parent’s beloved.
And so it is with you and God.
You are your Heavenly Father’s beloved.
He loves you not in response to your attempts to please him.
He loves you not because of your good deeds.
He loves you not because of what you do.
He loves you because of who you are.
And who are you?
You are one who is marked with the sign of the cross.
You are one who has been washed clean 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.
Is God pleased with you? Yes.
Not because of what you do – but, because you are in 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 speaks those words over you in your baptism.
God’s love and mercy is not dependent upon you - but upon his unwavering promises made and fulfilled in Jesus.
Sometimes in life it doesn’t feel like God is pleased with us.
In fact, our lives can be filled with such turmoil and difficulty, with such hardship and sorrow, that we can easily think that God not pleased with us – and is maybe even downright angry and he is punishing us.
Sometimes we are so weighed down by the guilt of our sins and failures that we think it is simply impossible for God to be pleased with us.
But consider this:
In our Gospel lesson we heard that John was baptizing in the wilderness a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
We then heard that Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan.
This may seem strange since Jesus was sinless. He had no sins to repent of. He had no need of forgiveness.
But our Lord’s Baptism was not for himself. It was for you.
In our Lord’s Baptism, he took upon himself all of your sins and failures so that in your Baptism you could be declared holy and righteous.
St. Paul describes this in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Our Lord’s Baptism was not for himself. It was for you.
Our sin caused heaven to be closed.
But when Jesus came up out of the water of his Baptism the heavens opened and the Spirit descended upon him like a dove – showing all that he is the promised Messiah.
Heaven is now open to us because of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
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. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
We may at times feel like God is not pleased with us.
But regardless of how we feel, the truth remains that he is pleased with you.
The truth remains that we have been united with him and nothing can separate us from his love.
Scripture assures us, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).
In Christ, you are forgiven.
In Christ, you have eternal life.
You are God’s beloved; 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. Amen.