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Jesus Gets Baptized FOR YOU!

January 7, 2018

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The Baptism of Our Lord           Trinity Lutheran Church

7 January 2018                             Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Mark 1:4-11

 

Imagine taking a bath in someone else’s bath water. Especially if the person or people who just took the bath are exceptionally dirty. Grubby. Messy. Soiled. Grimy. Filthy. Can you imagine what the bath water looks like? Can you guess what is floating in there? It’s so chunky and murky you can’t even see the bottom. What is that? Don’t get too close! Keep the kids away! Gross! Disgusting. Someone call the EPA! OSHA! Who knows what you’d catch if you even dared to put your big toe in that polluted water. We won’t even share a common cup with our fellow Christians let alone a common bath. Can’t take the chance of catching something. It might be deadly.

 

But that is precisely what Jesus does! Yes, that’s right. I’ll say it again. Jesus hops right in. Oh heck! He’s up to His neck! Even though the Jordan River bath water teems with all the dirty and filthy sin from every kind of sinner. Jesus takes a bath – or better yet – gets baptized in that stinky, rotten sin-infested Jordan River water. Our sin. The sin of the world is in that bath water. Filled with every imaginable evil. The worst of our idolatry, immorality, drunkenness, deceit, pride, greed, slander, coveting that our old Adamic sinful nature can crank out. The Pharisees and hot shot religious leaders refused to touch let alone step into that water. They didn’t want to be seen in the same water with prostitutes and sinners. They refused to confess their sins, repent and be baptized – washed – with the promise that their sins are forgiven because Messiah has come.

 

Jesus shows up. He’s not ashamed to step right into a sinner’s bath water. He stands knee deep, then hip deep and then neck deep with all sinners from prostitutes to tax collectors, from Gentiles to the outcast. He stands shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with sinners.

 

As Jesus receives John’s baptism in the Jordan there is … dare I say it? … I will … there is a collusion of the highest order. The most scandalous collusion of all time. Call all the TV networks and wonks. From CNN to ABC. From Lester Holt to Rachel Maddow. Breaking news! Jesus openly, audaciously and publicly colludes not with … the … Russians … but with SINNERS AND ALL THEIR SIN!

 

Behold, the Holy takes on the unholy. The Sinless takes on sin. Life takes on death. Heaven takes on hellish damnation. In the sin-infested water Jesus is now steeped in your sin! The world’s sin! In the water contaminated and diseased with all sin Jesus remarkably becomes the idolater, the adulterer, the drunkard, the liar, the thief, the blasphemer, the murderer, the homosexual, the abortionist. You name it! Jesus who knew no sin was made to be sin FOR YOU! So that in Him you might become the righteousness of God!

 

Dr. Luther rightly calls this a “happy or blessed exchange.” A sweet swap. That is what the baptism of Jesus is all about. In His baptism Jesus takes up all your sin, guilt, death and damnation and carries it all to the cross. In exchange He gives you His righteousness, perfection, holiness, glory, life and forgiveness. Jesus gets treated as the sinner so that you are declared to be saint. Jesus was baptized into your sin. You are baptized into His righteousness. Jesus was baptized into your death and hellacious condemnation. You are baptized into His life and salvation. Jesus was baptized into the curse of the law – “cursed is anyone that hands on a tree” – the curse you deserve for your disobedience. You are baptized into God’s blessing and favor that comes only with Jesus’ perfect obedience given to you.

 

Jesus is baptized in the Jordan FOR YOU and for your salvation! It’s all salvific gift! The eternal Word was joined with the water in a marvelous way that day at the Jordan. The sinless Son of God absorbed the pollution of your sin and purified it with His divine body and blood. Never had water been graced by God as the day the holy and pure Son of God enter the sin-infested water and sanctified it.

 

Well, permit me couple more quick gospel zingers. They’re FOR YOU. For your edification. Get a load of this. Did you notice that when Jesus is baptized the heavens are literally torn wide open? The Greek verb is where we get our word “schism.” Guess where Mark uses the very same verb again? This will blow your mind. It’s when Jesus dies on the cross and the curtain of the holy of holies in the temple is ripped or torn from top to bottom.

 

So what? Glad you asked. Here’s the so what. Your sin shuts heaven tight. Your sin cuts you off, exiles you, banishes you from God’s gracious presence. It makes you God’s most bitter enemy. Because of your sin you deserve to be abandoned forever in hell and God would be justified in sending you there.

 

However, God doesn’t want to do that to you. So He sends His Son to rend the heavens wide. To open the kingdom of heaven. Through Jesus, including His baptism in the Jordan that’s taking Him to do a Good Friday “baptism,” God has opened heaven to you and FOR YOU.

 

There is a door for the rebel children of Adam to become God’s children, reborn and renewed, and enter freely and completely into His gracious presence. That door is the narrow way of Jesus’ Good Friday death and Easter morning resurrection.

 

When you were baptized in the Triune Name you were brought through the Good Friday death and Easter Sunday resurrection of Jesus. Your baptism into Christ brings you through that door, joining you with Jesus’ death and life. “Or do you not know that all of us who have baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life,” (Romans 6:3-4).

 

In Jesus’ baptism God the Father shows you that in your baptism heaven is split or schism-ed wide open to you and FOR YOU. The barrier between you and God is torn down. The door to heaven is unlocked. The gate unbarred. You have peace with God through Jesus. You have, through Jesus, access to God’s grace. You can come into His presence with thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise. Through Jesus heaven is opened to you and in Jesus God descends to meet and have heavenly fellowship with you.

 

In the water at the Jordan! There the Father speaks approvingly of His Son who colludes with sinners and all their sin in order to take it, answer for it and atone for it through the shedding of His blood on the cross. In the water there is the Son in all His Suffering Servanthood. There too is the Spirit who descends and hovers as a dove.

 

Now here is the clincher. Jesus’ baptism teaches you to treasure your baptism. Your baptism in the Triune Name is the greater baptism to which John the Baptist pointed. It is the baptism that Jesus mandated in Matthew 28. To be baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is to have heaven broken wide open to you and FOR YOU. To have the Father’s voice of approval declare you to be His beloved child. To have the Holy Spirit descend on you. To have Jesus, the sinless Son of God stand in the water with you as your Brother and as your Savior. Who took all your sin and all its damnation in His body on the cross.

 

In Jesus’ baptism the heavens are torn open. The dove descends. The Father speaks. Those things didn’t happen for Jesus’ benefit. They took place FOR YOU! That you would delight in your baptism and know that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit mightily saved you there just as Jesus Himself promises: “Whoever believe and is baptized will be saved,” (Mark 16:16).

 

In the Name of Jesus.

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