The Big Deal of Jesus’ Baptism!
The Baptism of Our Lord Trinity Lutheran Church
11 January 2015 Murdock, NE
+Jesu Juva +
A baptism takes place. Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan.
So what? What’s the big deal? Do you even care? Most people don’t. And it shows. They have little or no use for Jesus let alone His being baptized.
Maybe this story is in the Bible to give you an example to follow. Jesus is 30 years old when He’s baptized. So the moral of the story is you should wait until you’re 30 years old to get baptized like Jesus did. That’s it? Really? No wonder most folks have no use for Jesus. Jesus as example is about as interesting as watching paint dry. Jesus as example, in the big scheme of things, is about as useless to people as … watching paint dry. Bible stories as morals aren’t that helpful in the long run.
I suppose the only thing that catches anyone’s attention is the baptizer. He’s a Jerry Springer, freak show, anger issues kind of a preacher. He’s got the Woodstock, hippie, retro look. Check it out. Camel hair coat. Big fat leather belt. Wild frizzy hair and out of control beard. Chomps and chews on locusts Gulps and guzzles wild honey. Dude! That’s about as exciting as it gets, doesn’t it?
Where are the human-interest stories? Mark needs a lesson in mainstream network journalism. He should have added an interview or two with some of the other folks John just baptized. The kid suffering with brain cancer. The soldier who just came home from the war. The rags to riches entrepreneur. Or the fairy tale love story of college sweethearts gone bad.
No! I’ve got it! If only John would have broken the seal of the confessional and blabbed. You know — told us all of the juicy sins that had just been confessed to him. Mary’s infidelities. Arthur’s embezzling. Jane’s web of lies. Rocko’s addictions. Steven’s foul mouth. Ava’s slipping into atheism. Harley’s trip to Las Vegas. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? You bet you would! You’d be all ears!
But a baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River? You’re yawning. Rolling your eyes. Picking your fingernails. Daydreaming. Bored. Indifferent. Apathetic.
Jesus? Baptized in the Jordan? So what?
Well, I’ve got a newsflash for you. It’s a salvation at stake so what! It’s a salvation at stake big deal!
Here’s what I mean. Jesus gets baptized FOR YOU and for your salvation. Jesus gets baptized to die for you the sinner. Jesus gets baptized to answer and to atone for all your sin.
Perhaps now you realize how important this Baptism is. You’re a sinner. You need saving. You need an atonement. You need the Savior. Otherwise … well … you’ll end up eternally apart from God wailing and gnashing your teeth in hellfire.
Jesus gets into the water not to give you an example to follow. Example Jesus is Law Jesus. You need Gospel Jesus. Gift Jesus! So He is and gives what you desperately need. He comes as pure gift FOR YOU. He gets into the filthy sin-infested and sin-polluted Jordan to do what only He can do: SAVE YOU! From God’s wrath and the eternal damnation that all your sin has justifiably earned!
His baptism in the Jordan is the beginning of His ministry. It is the first stage of His on purpose work FOR YOU that climaxes when He does His Good Friday. Did you hear that? Listen again. Jesus has bullishly come to do a Good Friday dying FOR YOU.
So, the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus in the form of a dove. The Holy Spirit anoints Jesus as the Messiah King! Puts Jesus into the office of the Suffering Servant King who has come not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. The Holy Spirit bears witness that Jesus is your Good Friday Savior. The Holy Spirit brings glory to Jesus – showing you that He is Savior FOR YOU! Jesus’ ministry, starting in the Jordan River, is a Holy Spirit-filled ministry because it’s all about giving you a new beginning, a new life, eternal life that begins with His getting baptized in the water of the Jordan.
Here’s the good news. The gospel gift of salvation. Already at the Jordan, Jesus takes the sin of the world in His body – your sin too — soaking it up like a sponge – in order to atone for it in His bloody Calvary death. His Baptism in the Jordan by John is the beginning of His trek to carry all sin, yours and the world’s in His Body, to be numbered with the transgressors, and to get damned as MAXIMUN SINNER on the cross.
That’s why heaven breaks wide open and the Father gives His majestic voice of approval of Jesus’ Baptism. The Father is absolutely delighted. Thrilled. The Father’s sermon from heaven is this: “Do you see this Jesus? Look at Him. He is My Son. I love Him. With Him and what He’s doing – a Baptism that will lead to the cross to save sinners – I am well pleased. After all, that’s exactly why I sent Him! He’s doing what I want Him to do — FOR YOUR SALVATION!”
You’re His disciple. The Matthew 28 kind of disciple. You are baptized according to Jesus’ bidding. God gave you His divine Triune Name in the water of your baptism. With His Triune Name God gives you salvation! The very salvation Jesus won for you in His Good Friday dying. In your water baptism you have been given the new birth of the Holy Spirit. You have been baptized into the Good Friday-that-counts-for-all-your-sins-Jesus’-death IN ORDER TO LIVE A NEW LIFE.
New life. The life lived in and from Holy Baptism — the Matthew 28 Triune Name Baptism!
It’s a Holy Spirit-filled life that began at your Baptism and continues all your life until the resurrection of the body on the Last Day. The new life of Holy Baptism means that you fight against your sin and your sinful nature – the old Adam – and put it to death. Daily! To confess your sin. Daily! Tell the truth. You’re a sinner. But more importantly, believe that Jesus died FOR YOU and that He forgives you. Daily! The new life of Holy Baptism also means this: YOU HAVE GOOD USE OF JESUS AND HIS FORGIVENESS – YOU BELIEVE THAT HE WAS BAPTIZED AND DIED ON THE CROSS AS GIFT FOR YOU.
Or as St. Paul preaches it: “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 6:11). Or as Jesus promises: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mk 16:16)! Happy living in and from your Baptism into Christ.
In the Name of Jesus.