Jesus Baptism is our Baptism. That’s really the point of my sermon. Hope I didn’t spoil it for you.
After the jump.
Jesus comes to Jordan to be baptized by John. What is this? Why was he baptized? John seems to be aware of what’s happening more than Jesus – you should baptize me. John was called to baptize the people for the forgiveness of sins – but he the baptizer realizes that his own sins need to be forgiven. The prophet needs salvation just as much as the people – so when sees Jesus, says, no, I should not baptize you, you should baptize me.
Jesus says, no is fitting to fulfill all righteousness – he must be baptized for forgiveness of sins, because he who knew no sin is going to take on your sin. He must be baptized like a sinner if he is to bring forgiveness to the people, because the forgiveness he gives freely to you comes at a price, and Jesus must pay that price. Jesus had to become a sinner – receiving baptism into his ministry, being counted a sinner, and finally being punished as a sinner.
All this so he could give you forgiveness. Jesus baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins is a baptism that would end as he is baptized in his own blood on the cross. Jesus baptism in the Jordan will becomes the baptism of forgiveness that he gives today to his church – Look at what happens today – the Father announced his pleasure in his beloved son, Jesus the son has come to take your sins on himself, and the Spirit testifies and descends on Jesus as a dove. The Holy Trinity is in the water – so when we baptize it is in the name of the triune God that was at the Jordan river that day – the name of the father son and holy ghost. When we baptize, we are baptized into Jesus death. When we are baptized, it is so that we might be counted among the righteous.
What is baptism?
Baptism is not simply water, not some mysterious voodoo ritual that works just by saying the right syllables in the right order, but water connected with the word and promise of God – for Jesus himself has not only received baptism from John, but given it to his church, “Go therefore and teach all nations BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY GHOST. Baptism has God’s command and God’s promise. Yes, the church has the command to baptize all nations – but we are also given salvation through that same baptism. Two weeks ago was Christmas day. What parent had to tell their child – “You aren’t leaving from next to this tree until you open all your gifts.” “Baptize in my name” is no more a command than “Come open your presents.” – for in baptism is the greatest gift we could ever or will ever receive – Luther writes in the L.C. The power, work, profit, fruit, and end of Baptism is this, namely, to save.
That is the benefit of Baptism
Our Lord gives the benefits of baptism – baptism, the mixing of water and the word is not simply a human action, it becomes God’s action when mixed with his all powerful word – in baptism he gives you all that you need to obtain salvation. All that God commands of you, he gives to you in Baptism. You must be perfect, as your father is perfect – in Baptism, you are given perfection, you are declared righteous for Jesus sake. You must love your neighbor as yourself – in baptism you are given perfect, all consuming love – the love of Jesus Christ that died for our sins. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind – the first and greatest commandment – – the command you can not possibly keep, the command you ignore and intentionally disregard every moment of your life, the commandment that truly separates you from your heavenly father – even this is given to you in baptism. Your heavenly father sees you, and you are looked on as his dear child, who has done his will. In you he is well pleased. Baptism is nothing less than the gift of life itself.
Even if baptism gave no benefit at all, but Jesus simply said, I was baptized, and I want you to be baptized – some do teach that – then, even then, we should hold it in the highest esteem, for our Lord Jesus commanded and gave it to us. Even if he said, open this gift to please me, but there is nothing inside, you should still do it. But your Lord is not that way – he gives you every good thing. Baptism is no empty box, it is the gift of grace and mercy and love from your heavenly Father. And since it has God’s command, it is not we that Baptize. God baptizes. It is his baptism. He is doing the work.
Look at the promise in the Gospel reading. Jesus in Jordan did not simply go down into water and come up again, he went into the water to be counted a sinner. And even here, you have God’s promise – this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. That’s what baptism is. God declaring that he is well pleased. And the heavens are opened. How amazing is that – the heavens are closed to us. By your sin you have isolated yourself from God, and yet here, in baptism, a window is opened through which you see heaven. The heavens are opened to you, and God declares that you are no longer his enemy, but his dear child, and in you he is well pleased, for Jesus sake. God says at the Jordan river that Jesus sacrifice is an acceptable one. His death will atone for your sins. His suffering pays your ransom, and takes away God’s anger at your sin. God’s anger is put on Jesus. The gift of Jesus sacrifice is a pleasing aroma before our heavenly Father, and now, Jesus offers you that gift through Baptism. he did not say, here is what I have done, watch and copy me. Live under a new and even more impossible law. No, though many would like to believe that, in order to make themselves feel good. Many would like to believe that Jesus was all about giving us rules to follow. but if we can’t even keep the ten commandments of the old testament, how are we to keep some new and improved law? The ten commandments already condemn. The Lord Jesus came to save, and he does it through baptism. All that Jesus did in his baptism becomes yours through your baptism. What amazing gifts they are. Through baptism you are given forgiveness, and where there is forgiveness, there is life and salvation.
Why make all this fuss about baptism? After all, we have all received baptism, we have all been reborn into Jesus. Most of us can’t even remember our own baptism, so what does it matter? It is the difference between darkness and light, between God and Satan, between Life and death. In baptism you were taken out of the darkness and brought into the light of God’s truth. In this world you are either a servant of God or a servant of Satan, there is no middle ground – you are either God’s child, or his enemy, and it is baptism that marks you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified. Jesus himself gives the promise. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned. It is what you are. You are baptized. Not you were baptized, but you are baptized. You are redeemed. You are a child of God.
Rather, imagine a child who takes that gift and holds onto it as the most precious gift in the world, enjoying it day after day. That is what baptism is. Baptism forgives sin. You need forgiveness every day of your life. You must daily repent of your sin, and daily receive forgiveness. Even in the Divine service, forgiveness is tied to baptism “I forgive you your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”. That’s the baptismal formula. That’s you, enjoying the fruit of baptism. When you turn from sin and look in faith toward God and his promise, you are doing nothing more than living your life in Baptism. Baptism is heaven begin opened to you. You, being given new life each and every day. Yes, each day, not just on Sunday’s do you need baptism and forgiveness, each day you break God’s law, each day you sin greatly, and each day you are told again by God, “You are my beloved child, in you I am well pleased.” That is the gift and promise of Baptism, for every day of your life, and even into eternity. That is why Baptism is the most precious gift you will ever receive.