1-10-21 Sermon

Sermon January 10, 2021 Baptism of Our LORD Mark 1:4-11

 

Dear Heavenly Father, as Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, you proclaimed Him to be your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Please grant that all who are baptized in His name may faithfully keep the covenant into which they have been called, and boldly confess Jesus as Savior and LORD. In Jesus precious name we pray. Amen

What do the waters of baptism and the waters of a tsunami have in common? Well of course they are both water. In 2004 the worst tsunami on record killed over 300,000 people in South-East Asia. Billions of dollars’ worth of damage.

Baptism, on the other hand, saves souls for eternity. The tsunami of 2004 revealed previously unknown archaeological sites. In the water of baptism Jesus-- God’s Son, the Savior of the world is revealed. There is, perhaps, no one better suited to teach us about baptism than “John the Baptist.” The opening verses of Mark’s Gospel make that clear. Mark wrote: “John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. J

ohn did his preaching in the wilderness instead of the cities and villages, and still his message drew a large audience. Josephus, a 1st century historian, estimated that as many as 300,000 people heard John preach! Men and women, young and old, poor and wealthy, priests and fishermen, and Jesus of Nazareth, were among John’s audience.

As Jesus came out of the water after having been baptized by John, all heaven literally broke loose. The skies parted and God the Father who had first spoken at Creation, spoke again saying: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased”. The Holy Spirit once hovered over the prehistoric waters of creation was now visibly present in the form of a dove. Heavenly realities were being revealed to human beings: Jesus of Nazareth was in fact the Son of God!

So, being the sinless Son of God, why did Jesus get baptized? Even John the Baptist struggled with that question. When Jesus first requested that he be baptized by John, John refused and said that he was the one who needed to be baptized by Jesus. John was a sinner while Jesus was not. So, what was the point in Jesus getting baptized?

Jesus was taking his place among the people he had come to save. Jesus was letting the world know that he had come to stand with sinners, in fact, to take our sin, and to take our punishment. Jesus’ baptism reveals that he is the Son of God, but it also reveals that he is the Savior of the world.

Our world has tried to tell us that baptism is optional—it isn’t really that important. That’s not true. Jesus commanded baptism for all people of all ages. Because what happened at Jesus’ baptism still happens in our baptism.

When the water and God’s Word are combined, all heaven breaks loose as the Holy Spirit descends on that person to create or to strengthen faith, and God the Father declares: “This is my child whom I love; with whom I am well pleased.” Almighty God claims us sinners as his children because baptism washes away sin. The forgiveness we receive is just as real as the water dripping down the head of that person.

Baptism is God’s declaration to us, not our promise to him. When a child is adopted, s/he doesn’t take an oath promising to be faithful to his/her new family. S/he doesn’t pay any legal fees to join the family. The adopting parents take that oath of love and faithfulness to their adopted child; they pay the legal fees to seal the adoption.

Martin Luther said we need to be walking wet in our baptism every day, just to remind us of our standing with almighty God. The Holy Spirit came to us, and God the Father declared with absolute certainty: “You are my child!” The Father makes that declaration because his Son, Jesus, paid for our adoption.

Satan tempts us to neglect the message of John the Baptist regarding repentance, much like the Sadducees and Pharisees who had no remorse over their love for money and power. John called them a brood of vipers! “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance”.

If these religious leaders were truly sorry about their sins and truly desired God’s forgiveness, they would have turned away from their sin. Since they had no intention of doing so, God’s judgment remained on them. That’s true today as well.

When we grumble about life--when we’re envious, or jealous of others, when we are judgmental of others, we turn our back on God’s forgiveness. God has given us the Holy Spirit, he has given us his Word to turn us away from those attitudes and to remind us of who we are and to whom we belong: we are God’s children and should never hang out with the evil one.

Water is very powerful. But the destructive power of a tsunami pales in comparison to the constructive power of baptism. With a few handfuls of water all heaven broke loose and God revealed Jesus to be his Son, the Savior of the world. With handfuls of water heaven opened at our baptism and God pronounced the words of forgiveness and claimed us as His very own. children of God, let’s put away our petty arguments, our stubborn pride, our pigheadedness and live each day as the children God He has declared us to be. Amen

 

 
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