January 8, 2017 – The Baptism of our Lord
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Grace and peace to you as you live in the assurance of God’s love, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Read Romans 6:1-11
In the past three weeks we have celebrated some significant events in the life of Jesus. Almost three weeks ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus in the little town of Bethlehem, as we celebrated Christmas most of us understood the significance of that celebration. Then three weeks ago we celebrated the presentation of Jesus in the temple. The presentation of anyone’s first born to the Lord was important but the presentation of Jesus was even more important because this baby was the first born of the Son of Man and the Son of God. As true man and True God, Jesus would do what we could not do, that is be perfectly unblemished by sin so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all the people of the world. Last Sunday we celebrated the Epiphany of our Lord. This is a significant event in the life of Jesus because as the magi came to see the baby Jesus, they came declaring what had be foretold by the Word of God. That this Christ Child would save all the world, bringing peace that was beyond this worlds understanding. Today we come to celebrate another significant event in the life of Jesus, His baptism.
Now here I need to remind you that Jesus’ baptism was by no means anything like our baptism. First off, Jesus does not come to His baptism as a lost and condemned sinner, but instead as the perfect Child of God now grown and ready to start His ministry at the age of 30. Secondly Jesus comes to be baptized in fulfillment of God’s command. God commanded that before a priest could begin His duties as a priest of God for His people they had to be baptized. So Jesus comes to John the Baptist, who was preparing the way for Him by baptizing the people in confession of their sins to prepare them for the Savior of the world, who would take all their sins away. Jesus comes to John the Baptist to be baptized to start His holy priesthood as the Lamb of God who would take away all the sins of the world.
Now even though Jesus was being baptized for a completely different reason than we came to be baptized there are some similarities. When Jesus was baptized it says: “And as He was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven; “You are my Son whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Lk. 3: 21 – 22) So there are three things that happen in Jesus baptism along with getting Him prepared for the duties of being our High Priest, our Lamb of God. First the heavens were opened for they had been closed because of the sin of the world. Secondly the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the form of a dove. And third His heavenly Father pronounced Him to be His beloved Son. Similarly in our baptism the doors of heaven are opened to us as the blood of Jesus in the water and the words of Baptism washes away all our sins. Secondly, the Holy Spirit comes into our life to bring us to faith. And third, we are given a new life as a Child of our Heavenly Father.
It is the result of what Jesus’ Baptism begins and the similarities that the Apostle Paul is talking to us about in our Epistle lesson for today as he says: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom. 6:1 – 4)
Jesus’ Baptism was the start of His public ministry as the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world. In yours and my Baptism two things had to happen, first the death of our old sinful self had to take place. This happened in you and me when the waters of our baptism were put upon us and the Word’s of God were spoken. This happened in Jesus’ ministry when He when to the Cross of Calvary with all our sins and shed His blood for us even to death. The second think that happened to you and me in our Baptism was that we were given a new life as a child of God with the Holy Spirit working in us through the water of our Baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This was given to us through the ministry of Jesus as He was burried in the grave for three days and rose again in the first resurrection, the gift of eternal life that is now ours.
Death to life it is a life changing experience, or at least it should be. Yet for most of us that is not what our baptism means to us. For the death that we face in our baptism was a spiritual death of our old sinful nature and the new life that we gained in this world is the spiritual life that can live for eternity if it is not rejected.
Death to life, it’s hard to understand in our world unless we experience it physically, but that is just what happened to David. You see David was a 28 year old young man who was looking forward to life in the future as successful construction engineer, husband and hopefully a father soon in the future when he was diagnosed with Leukemia. The doctors first prescribed treatment for David’s leukemia was to go through a cemo treatment. In the cemo treatment the majority of his blood cells were killed and he was given blood transfusions from his bother and sisters to enable him to life until his body was producing enough blood on his own. When this treatment did not get rid of David’s leukemia the doctors prescribed that he would go through a second cemo treatment at a higher dosiage to kill a greater precentage of his blood cells. Once again David was kept alive by the blood of his brother and sisters through blood transfusions until his body was able to make it’s own blood on its own. Again the treatment didn’t work so his doctors sent David to a specialist who could give David a bone marrow transplant. Now in the treatment of a bone marrow transplant all of the blood cells in David would have to be put to death and since the life of some one is found in his blood David would essentially have to be put to death and then after all of David’s blood cells were killed he would be given new blood through transplant of the bone marrow from one of his sisters. David would be but to death and then given the living bone marrow of his sister so that he could have a new life free from Leukemia.
David, by God’s grace and a lot of prayers, made it through the process of the death and life experience of a bone marrow transplant and was given a new life free from Leukemia. In that death to life experience David became linked to his sister Debbie as her blood lived and grew in him.
In our Baptism we have been through a death and life experience and we are now linked to Jesus Christ by his blood living and growing in us. That is what the Apostle Paul is talking about as he says, “If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Rom. 6:5 – 7)
Jesus’ Baptism started a death to life experience that would enable us to have a death to life experience in our Baptism. In David’s death to life experience with Leukemia there became a problem. That problem was rejection. David’s body could reject Debbie’s blood living and growing in David’s body therefore David had to daily take bills that would stop his body from rejecting Debbie’s blood from living and growing in him so that he could live and not die.
We all have a simmular problem of rejection, only we don’t have a daily bill to take to stop our sinful self from rejectiong the blood of Jesus living and growing us, that is our faith. No God is working in us by the Holy Spirit to keep us from rejection the faith that is living and growing in us through His Word and Sacraments. It is as we continue to let God’s Word and scraments to the work through the Holy Spirit in our lives that we will continue to grow in our faith and love of God, in the new life given to us in our baptism and not die.
The Apostle Paul encourages us to do this as he says, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. 10 The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 6: 8 – 11)
In Jesus’ Baptism He started His ministry that would lead to a death to life experience that would have an eternal result. In our baptism we were given a death to life experience that can have eternal result unless we reject the new life giving blood shed for us by Jesus Christ.
Your old sin full life wants you to reject the new life given to you by Jesus Christ. The world wants you to reject the new life given to you by Jesus Christ. The devil wants you to reject the new life given to you by Jesus Christ. What do you want? Life or Death?
John the Baptist baptized Jesus so that He could go through a death to life experience that would give you eternal life. Now would you be willing to share the death to life experience that you have be given through the death to life sacrifice given to you by Jesus Christ?
My hope and prayer is that each of us will not reject the life giving blood given to us through our Baptism and that we would always want to share it with others. Amen.