The Baptism of Our Lord
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Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
January 13, 2013
Central Passage
Matthew 3:13-17
Description

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

One could spend a life time doing nothing but contemplating the wonder and majesty of the baptism of our Lord in the Jordan by St. John the Baptist, and never fully discover the extreme beauty and glory of this most holy occasion. The Lord’s own words about it, that He is baptized to fulfill all righteousness, tells us that this event is worthy of meditation and praise.

When we meditate on baptism we find that we are meditating on everything the Lord has said and done. Creation itself teaches us about baptism. Through water and by His word, God formed the dry land on which His people would live. So through water and the word the Lord creates a new and better land for His people, a land of immortality and righteousness, the kingdom of heaven. Just as the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep in Creation, so He hovers over and is in the waters of holy baptism, giving shape and form to everyone that comes out of the font; fashioning them in image of the new Man, which is Christ. The new creation is born as the old, through water and the word. In holy baptism water finds its true purpose: to bring forth the new creation of God. When you see the ocean or a lake, or even the drinking water in your glass, you behold the means by which God creates the new heavens and the new earth. Joined to the word of God this truly becomes holy water and water whereby you are saved and rescued from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

People often ask me and I’m sure many of you have wondered if baptism is necessary for salvation. Do we need to be baptized to be saved, to go to heaven? The simple answer is, yes. Baptism is necessary – our Lord’s baptism is necessary for you to be saved. It is necessary that the Lord was baptized to fulfill all righteousness and so it is necessary that the Lord be baptized. But must you be baptized? By all means! Why do we fear this answer? It is because we know of so many who are not baptized, yet are our friends and even members of our families and we don’t want to consign them to hell because they are not baptized. And because we have many Christian friends and family members who do not believe that baptism is necessary, and we don’t want to offend them or make them think we trust in water and not in Jesus by insisting that baptism is necessary.

But what are we saying when we say that baptism is necessary? We are saying nothing else than the word of God is necessary for salvatin. For baptism is not plain water but is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word. And this word is no mere language, but is the word made flesh, as St. Paul writes that as many as have been baptized have put on Christ Jesus (Colossians 2). Without God’s word the water is plain water, but with the word of God it is a life-giving water, rich in grace and washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter 3.

When we speak about and meditate on holy baptism we are speaking of and meditating on nothing less than the words and promises of God. “Is it necessary for you to be baptized to be saved?” is a dangerous question because it divides the water from the word, ripping asunder what God has joined together. Besides, you are baptized. Rejoice in the Lord that He has given you all the promises of life and salvation and bring your children and your grandchildren for the same. And if you are not baptized, then hear the word of the Lord that His promises are for you and for your children, for all the Lord calls to Himself. And for those who cannot be baptized for reason of death, let God’s word and promises, His mercy and grace be enough for them and for us that the Lord looses none of those given to Him by the Father and that nothing, not even death can snatch them from His hand. The Lord is the Lord, rejoice in Him who fulfills all righteousness by taking on our sin to give us His obedience.

For when the Lord was baptized He was numbered among the transgressors. He was marked by the water as a sinner. For it was sinners who came to John to be baptized. The Lord was washed with the putrid waters of our sin and shame, our guilt and filth. He was buried in our sins and our rebellion. In His baptism was fulfilled the word of the Lord that He who knew no sin was made to be sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world because the sin of the world was laid on Him in the waters of the Jordan River. If your baptism is the promise of life and salvation, then His was the promise of death and damnation. For He died for our transgressions and was cursed for our guilt (our iniquities).

Yet when He came up out of the waters – a picture of His resurrection – the Spirit of God descended upon Him and remained on Him. This isn’t because He didn’t have the Holy Spirit before He was baptized, but it was given as a sign that the Holy Spirit is found where Jesus is found and is given by and through Jesus, the Son of God. This is the anointing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power so that He would go about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. (Acts 10:38).

And that is what He still does. Still the Son of God does good, healing all who are oppressed by the devil. He pours out His Spirit on all flesh, washing the sons of men with the waters of eternal life. In holy baptism your diseases and sins, your guilt and shame, your death, are given over to the Son of God and you are given His righteousness and His Spirit that you would live and not die. You are forgiven all your sins because all your sins were given to Jesus, and the life you now live in the flesh you live by faith in the Son of God who loves you and gave Himself up for you and now gives Himself to you.

 

In Nomine Iesu
+ Amen +