Archive for the ‘Luke 3:15-22’ Category

Gladly Say It!

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Baptism of our Lord Year (C), January 13, 2013
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA

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“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”” [Luke 3:21, 22]

This morning we will explore two questions by looking at our two natures.  The two questions are: 1. Why was Jesus baptized?  (And) 2.  Why is your baptism such a big deal?

First, Jesus was baptized because it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness.  What I mean by that is, when He entered into the Jordan  that day to be baptized by John, He was announcing to this sinful world that His ministry to redeem and save it had begun; He was  announcing to all sinful men and the devils too that the promise of the Savior was being fulfilled and would be accomplished once and  for all by Him and Him alone.  When Jesus fulfilled all righteousness, He was declaring judgment upon the devil.  On that day He was  declaring to you that He would be your righteousness; you would be spared the final judgment for your sins because He would take the  punishment that you and your sins deserved.

Now this is both good news and bad news.  It is good news for you, that is for your new baptismal nature that God has given to you in  your baptism.  That new nature, the nature we identify as a saint, rejoices in this proclamation of righteousness.  Our sermon hymn, “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” is in modern terms, the theme song of our baptismal life.  That new nature celebrates that Jesus has now sanctified the waters of baptism through the power of the Holy Spirit.  No one has to convince it that God is love and has saved it; it’s very existence makes this self-evident.   But you have another nature; your old sinful person that does not see this as good news, because it means that it must die.  This old nature will do everything it can to live.  That nature has many “theme songs”, but perhaps this one is one of the best.  (The song “If Loving You is Wrong, I Don’t want to be Right” by Luther Ingram plays.)

Our old Nature says, “If loving you is wrong, then I just don’t care about being right.”  The “you” in the song is a mistress in an adulterous relationship.  But in our lives, the mistress is anything that we call right, which God says is wrong.  Intimacy without marriage is wrong, and marriage is between a man and a woman God says; wrong says the sinful nature, if it feels good and makes me feel fulfilled, then it can’t be wrong.  In regards to our bodies, God’s Word says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a (great) price.  So glorify God in your body.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20]  “Wrong” says the sinful flesh of today’s modern woman, “A woman’s body is her’s alone and the life within her womb is hers to decide whether it will be born or not.”

God’s Word says, “Thou shalt not have any other god’s before or beside Me,” and our sinful flesh shakes it fist at the law of God, and follows the law of society which says, “If it feels good, just do it!”  So we as a people, as a nation pursue happiness at all costs because that is our right as one who is simply doing what feels good and seems right.  We pursue and procure all things that promise happiness and a better life.  “I have a right to this and a need for that.”  So we set out on the pursuit of things that this sinful world and our own sinful desires say are necessary.  And this pursuit that seems good right and salutary makes itself central to all things; and when our sinful nature becomes central to our existence, we become the god of our lives.  We can easily justify lying, stealing, coveting, and even murder, because after all, it makes us feel good.  So we agree, “If loving (this or that) is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.”

And God sees all of this and warns us that we are lost in sin, and if left on our own we are dead, forever lost and separated from Him because of our sins.  In His word, He shows not only our sinful fallen nature, but He also shows us the only way to ever be right with Him; He shows us our Savior, His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to us not just to show us the truth about our sins, but to pay for them.

Why was Jesus baptized?  So that through His Word, through His cross, and His empty tomb, we would know the truth and that truth would set us free.  So that through the same water that He Himself sanctified as He set His face to the cross, we would know that nothing can ever separate us again from the love of God.

Now that you have heard His truth, hear this truth also.  “Baptism, which corresponds to (the ark, which saved Noah and his family from the flood) now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” [1 Peter 3:21] “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” [Romans 6:4] This is why your baptism is a big deal!

It is God’s promise to those of you who are worried about your sin; those things which cause you to fear that God no longer cares for, or loves you.  When you are cut to the heart and don’t know how you will ever know peace with God, listen to St. Peter, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” [Acts 2:37-39]. You are baptized and your sins are forgiven, so continue to repent and turn to Jesus Christ alone!

For you who long to hear words of comfort, hear the gospel in our sermon hymn, and let it be your new nature’s theme song.  Let these Words speak to your heart.  Agree with God and shake your fist at the devil and your own old, sinful nature.

God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!  He, because I could not pay it, Gave my full redemption price.  Do I need earth’s treasures many?  I have one worth more than any, that brought me salvation free; lasting to eternity! Listen, I know my own self, and you know yourselves; we shouldn’t be God’s own child.  We know that in our old sinful nature, that is on our own, there is nothing worth loving or saving within us, and yet, God’s Word declares that He does love us and He has saved us through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son our Savior Jesus Christ.  That one gift is greater than anything the world has to offer.  Claim that gift that was first given to you in your baptism and rest in it forever!

Sin, disturb my soul no longer:  I am baptized into Christ!  I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.  Should a guilty conscience seize me since my Baptism did release me in a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood? We do have guilty consciences don’t we?  Well, let the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ give you peace.  Jesus died to bring forgiveness to the world, and in your baptism He came to give it to you personally.  You are forgiven!  Let that truth soak in and live out it’s truth.  Fight the sin that is within your old nature.  And when you fall into sin, don’t let that old nature trick you into thinking you have sinned beyond God’s ability to save.  Shut its mouth with the Word of God and continue to remind it that “you have been baptized into Christ Jesus and into His death.  The old nature was buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, you too might walk in newness of life.” [Romans 6:1-11]

Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!  Drop your ugly accusation, I am not so soon enticed.  Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled, and, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me! So when the devil begins to throw your sins in your face, and when he taunts you with your weaknesses and doubts, even when he threatens you with the fear of hell, simply tell him, “Devil you go to hell because that is what you desire; as for me, I admit that I am a sinner, what of it?  You see I know of One who is greater than my sin and has conquered all of my fears and tormentors, even you!  His name is Jesus Christ, and where He is, there I will be one day with Him as well!”

Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!  When I die, I leave all sadness to inherit paradise!  Though I lie in dust and ashes faith’s assurance brightly flashes: Baptism has the strength divine, to make life immortal mine. We’ve talked about the fear of death quite a bit this last season of Advent, but it bears repeating.  A Christian who fears their own death because they are uncertain about what or where their life will be after they leave this sinful earth, is a Christian who has small faith and lacks the joy of their salvation.  But small faith, the size of a mustard seed is better than no faith.  God shall one day take that small faith and show you what miracles He can and will do with it.  You will behold your God one day with your own eyes; you and not another for you, and He will say, “Welcome baptized Christian, come and enter your Fathers heaven, and rest in a place that He has prepared for you.”

(So you see), There is nothing worth comparing to this lifelong comfort sure!  Open-eyed (our) grave is staring: Even there (we’ll) sleep secure.  Though (our) flesh awaits its raising, still (our) souls continues praising: (We are) baptized into Christ; (We are) children of paradise! You are baptized dear saints.  Your old sinful nature will never gladly celebrate this truth, in fact it will fight it until your last breath.  It knows that it has lost, and it knows that it must die, but like the devil it will not go quietly.  Together, your old sinful nature and the devil want only to cheat you out of your inheritance, but if you will simply hold onto the promises of God, rest in the cross of Christ and your own baptism, you will be clothed with divine strength, which in the end will provide you with eternal life and everlasting peace with God.  It is that nature, with God’s means of grace protecting and providing for it, declares now and forever: “By baptism, I am God’s own child, and I will gladly say it!  AMEN!

In Order To Fulfill All Righteousness!

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

  Holy Baptism; Matt. 3:13-16; Luke 3:15-22; Epiphany 1A

First Sunday After Epiphany, January13, 2008
Vicar Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church. San Diego, CA

It’s been said that water is the foundation of life.  A simple element really; two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.  Life on this planet can not exist without it; we can’t exist without it.  We need to drink water for our survival, but we also need it for the everyday chores of life, things like cooking and cleaning.  When we wash ourselves, we never use just water, but we always add some sort of cleaning help with it; something like soap or shampoo.  In order for us to effectively clean our bodies we always have to add something to the water.

Today, let’s think back to the first time our hearts were cleansed by water; let’s consider our Baptism.  Baptism is a washing or purification where water is combined with the Word of God.  So like the process for cleaning our bodies, we must have something besides water.  When the Word of God is combined with water it becomes something much more than just an effective cleaning agent; it becomes a Holy Sacrament.

Today as we hear about our Lord’s baptism, we will also remember our own baptism.  It was at the font where our hearts first became cleansed from the stain and the curse of sin.  It was there at the font where the sting of eternal death was removed because our Lord took on death and hell for us.  He placed Himself under the Law and its curse for our sake.  He did so by submitting Himself to the baptism administered by John the Baptizer.  God called John to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, a gift which our Lord provided for us through His death and resurrection.

Jesus presented Himself for baptism by John at the beginning of His earthly ministry.  Now John must have been stumped over that.  He must have been wondering why Jesus was entering the water and coming out to him.  Was He testing him to ensure that he really knew who He was?  Why John even tried to stop Jesus from coming into the water, by saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me? (Mt. 3:14)  John recognized how strange this situation was that was unfolding before him.  The Holy One of Israel now stood before him, to receive that which He had no need to receive, because He was the one who knew no sin.  But Jesus answered him and said, “Permit it to be so (for) now, for this it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.  Then He allowed Him to be baptized.” (Mt. 3:15)

So our question this morning is: What did the Lord mean when he said that He must submit Himself to John’s baptism in order to fulfill all righteousness”?   In order to answer this we will follow Martin Luther’s teaching and pay attention to three things that are present within God’s means for saving sinners like us within the holy sacrament of baptism:  the sign, the significance of the sign, and faith.  All three of these are works that God does for us, to us, and within us.

The sign of our Baptism does not consist in our commitment to God, but rather it was through the water and the Word God, where God committed Himself to us.  At our Baptism when our old sinful nature was drowned in the name Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit we were not left there to die but we were reborn, a new creature, righteous and holy in God’s sight.  So the sign of baptism must have the water and the word, and the putting to death and the bringing to life.  

But what is the significance of our Baptism?  To answer this, lets go back to our gospel reading.  When Jesus entered the waters of the Jordan River that day, He willingly and freely submitted himself to baptism; He was publicly proclaiming that He had placed himself under the Law and its curse for us.  He who knew no sin became sin, and as He came up from the water, and in a sense, he was already carrying our sin.  He entered the water clean, and looking ahead to His crucifixion, He came out of the water covered with the muddy water of the Jordon that represented our sins; the sins of the entire world were weighing down on Himself.  The prophet Isaiah explained long before Jesus’ birth that this had to be done.  He tells us that the Savior of the world would be a Suffering Servant who would pay for the sins of mankind: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Is. 53:4-5)  In accordance with Isaiah’s words, Jesus submission to Baptism signified the waiting for the promised Savior was over and that God’s promise to send a savior was now fulfilled.  For us, this means that because of our own Baptism we no longer need to look for a coming peace with God, but instead we are told that the Savior is here-the Savior has provided salvation for us now, and for eternity. 

The significance of our baptism is that there has been a miraculous dying of our old sinful nature and the birth of a new nature through the grace of God.  Just as Christ who knew no sin became sin for us and died for us and then rose from the dead, so now also our old sinful nature, that which was conceived and born in sin has been washed away; drowned in the baptismal waters, and a new person has been drawn out by God.  This is why St. Paul in his Letter to Titus calls baptism a “washing of rebirth and (a) renewal by the Holy Spirit.”  Through our baptism, we have been born again and made new.  Our Savior assures us of this reality when He says, “Unless you are born of water and the Spirit (of grace), you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  Just as we were drawn out of our mother’s womb as a sinful person and a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3), so at our baptism we have been drawn out and born spiritually.  But Baptism also signifies that the drowning of our sinful old self is an on going struggle in this life-daily we must put to death our old nature and embrace our new baptized nature until at last when our final day here comes we will be free of sin.  So daily, as we remain here, we must suffer the temptations and even sometimes the defeats of sin, yet all the while knowing God who began the work of salvation at our baptism will complete it. 

In the same way also, the lifting up out of the baptismal waters signifies a spiritual re-birth and the presence of God’s grace, goodness, and righteousness.  This grace begins within the waters of baptism and lasts until our death.  On that Last Day our lifting up out of the Baptismal waters will be completed and then we will finally rise completely out of the grasp of death, sins and evil, and be completely pure and holy in body and soul, and it is in this condition that we will live eternally with God.  But for now, we are still here in this sinful world.  We have been called to remain here and to be the salt and light of this world until the Lord calls us to his side.   

So what is our state in the here and now?  The answer to that question my friends is the truly good news of our Baptism-God has declared us sacramentally pure and guiltless because we have the sign of baptism through which God has declared all of our sins to be dead.  But what part do we play in all of this?  The only part we play is the responsibility of not rejecting God’s work within this Holy Sacrament.  So, even though sin remains in our flesh until death and works to corrupt us, as long as we do not desire it or wish to remain in it, but instead desire God’s presence in Word and Sacrament, sin can not condemn us.

Finally, we look at the last element present within our baptism, which fulfills all righteousness-faith! Faith is a gift, which God gives us at baptism.  It is a gift that allows us to believe and trust in all that God’s Word says is present within our own baptism.  Faith is the very thing which clings to all of God’s promises, and it is the very thing that provides undeniable comfort in times of illness, temptation and death.    For this reason, we must boldly thrust out our empty hand of faith and trust only in God’s promises and work, both of which became ours at the baptismal font.  It is there at the font, where both infants and adults stand before God as equals-sinners in need of a savior!  At some point in our lives, all of us must humbly admit the very same thing before God, and it is this: “I am a sinner and there is not a single thing that is pure within me.”  When we can say this truthfully, then we can also by faith exclaim, “But I have been baptized, and through my baptism God, who can’t lie, has committed himself to me in a promise: He will not count my sin against me, but will kill it and wipe it away for ever.”

But some may say that because they were baptized as a child they can not remember their baptism and therefore they do not feel comforted by it.  Doubt is perhaps the greatest weapon that the devil uses against a baptized child of God.  He speaks through our old sinful nature and questions God’s Word.  It was the same for our original parents in the garden: “Did God really say this or that?  Are you really certain you can believe and trust this or that?”  It is here that our faith becomes a mighty weapon that can be used to crush the head of the devil and silence our old sinful nature!  When this sinful voice begins to speak like this, we must turn to it and say:

“I know that I am baptized and that God, for the sake of His Son, has promised me His grace.  His promise will never lie, even if I loose hope He will remain faithful.  And so what if I can’t remember the touch of water on my body at my baptism; God has given me an abundant supply of water that I can touch every day by plunging my fingers in and out, and then remember every one of His promises found in His Word; in this way His promises can remain fresh and new within me.  And when I touch that water, I can make the sign of the cross upon my brow and heart and remember it as I live out my baptism daily.” 

In our baptism, we remember the sins that are every day washed away from our bodies and souls; those sins were there in that muddy Jordan River on the day Jesus entered and left it. Like the muddy water of the Jordan, or sins, in a sense covered our Savior; our sins that were wiped out at the baptismal font was the load that was placed upon the shoulders of our Savior.  He bore it gladly and willingly for you so that you might be free.  It all began publicly for us when Jesus was baptized, and it was all completed when He was crucified on the cross for you and rose from the dead.  That is why Jesus baptism was necessary, because it fulfilled all righteousness!