February 2019   
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1-13-19 Sermon

Baptism of Jesus - Luke 3:15-22 

We are now in the liturgical season of the Epiphany. Epiphany is all about the many ways Jesus reveals Himself to people. Last week we read how Jesus was revealed to the Magi…now it’s 30 years later and Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan River and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove.

Today’s Gospel includes an epiphany not just of Jesus, but also of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Whenever we hear from John the Baptist there is always a sense of urgency. When he began his work he proclaimed: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”—meaning it’s here…now not sometime in the future, so do not delay. Do not put it off. Do not assume you have plenty of time, repent. Now. and the people did.

People from the entire region of the Jordan were going to John for his baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. When the people asked John, what shall we do?” he told them: repent of doing what they should not, and repent of not doing what they should, then receive forgiveness of Holy Spirit and live a new life.

All this created an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement. The kingdom of heaven now! So people started wondering if John might be the Christ, the promised Messiah. NO, no it’s not me, John says. It’s one far mightier than I! He will baptize not only for forgiveness, but with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He’s going to make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”

The kingdom of God is now.

The Messiah is here.

His judgment and separation are real.

John was talking about the kingdom of God when Jesus was baptized—when the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus. When the voice of God the Father was heard from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

John’s message stirred up the entire region. So King Herod Antipas—not the same Herod at the time of Jesus birth, had John thrown in prison—hoping to settle things down.

Now, with all the hype had created, I think it safe to say the people were expecting something more spectacular than another baptism. But Jesus baptism is a big deal because Jesus didn’t need to be baptized for repentance. He had no sin of which to repent and or be forgiven. And yet He was baptized. Not for Himself, but for the people He came to save. For you and me. Jesus baptism is the beginning of judgment. Luke makes an interesting point: after all the people had been baptized - - then Jesus is baptized.

Once the water of the Jordan was dirty with all the sins of people, then Jesus stepped in - not to get clean, but to get dirty.

Not to be forgiven, but to take the guilt of the sin of the world upon Himself. He would be judged--instead of us.

He would be condemned -- instead of us.

Even though Jesus was the perfect, innocent, spotless Lamb of God, He was imputed with every sin of the world - it was put upon Him instead of us, so we could have His place as children of God. That’s why God the Father is well pleased!

So when Jesus stepped into the Jordan that day, it was the beginning of the end. It marked the beginning of His work that would take Him to be judged and sentenced to death on the cross, resurrected from the dead and then His ascension into heaven.

So when we are baptized into Christ Jesus we are baptized in to His death and resurrection. When you were baptized, your sins were imputed to Jesus and His righteousness was imputed to you. And so baptized into Jesus the Holy Spirit descended upon you as well, and those same words of endearment from our Heavenly Father: You are my beloved; with you I am well pleased are heard.

In Jesus’ baptism a great exchange took place. Jesus came to be baptized in your place, so that in your baptism you may have His place. And now set free from sin, from judgment, from worry, from death - do you want to go back to all that? Some how people have gotten the idea that baptism means I can do anything I want because Jesus forgives me!

Paul says: By no means! Your baptism means that you have been set free to walk in newness of life, to no longer be a slave to sin. Not to wallow in the mud and filth again. By no means! You are a child of God.

Our baptism is never an excuse to sin, but our refuge when we do sin. The promise of forgiveness in your baptism is still yours today. Through repentance we are washed clean of sin, so when the day of final judgment comes, when Jesus comes again in glory with all His angels, you’ll have nothing to fear—for He is your God, your Savior, and you are His beloved child. For as baptism was the beginning of the end for Jesus, it is the beginning of the life that has no end for every believer.