Posts Tagged ‘Baptism of Our Lord’

Gladly Say It!

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

Baptism of the Lord-C
January 13, 2019
Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor of
Trinity Lutheran Church,
7210 Lisbon Street
San Diego, CA 92114

Click here for audio of this message.

 

“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?  2. (And) 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 people and all the devils 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 with as a saint, rejoices in this proclamation of righteousness.  Our call to Worship 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 nature 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 the song by Luther Ingram, “If Loving You is Wrong, I Don’t want to be Right” is the best.

Our old Nature says, “If loving you is wrong, then I just don’t care about being in the right.”  

The “you” in the song refers to a mistress who is in an adulterous relationship.  But in our lives, the mistress is anything that we might be tempted to call right, which God says is wrong.  God says that intimacy without marriage is wrong, and marriage is between a man and a woman; wrong says the sinful nature, if it feels good and makes me feel fulfilled, then it can’t be wrong.  In regards to our own 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 hers 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’s 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, “If loving (this or that) is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.”  

And God sees all of this and warns that there is a way that seems right to you but in the end, it really does lead to death.  You can’t agree that I am right and you are wrong, so I will come to you myself and not only show you the truth, but I will pay for your sins.  I will send my Son to you who will teach you and allow you to see all things clearly.  Through His Word, through His cross, through His empty tomb, you will know the truth and that truth will set you free.  I will cleanse you with the same water and Word that He Himself sanctified before He set His face to the cross in order to procure your salvation.  

Now since you are hearing 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 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 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. 39 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]

For you who long to hear words of comfort, hear the gospel in our call to worship hymn, and let it be your new natures 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 you 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 into your face, and taunts you with a future of doubt and even 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 He has conquered all of my fears and tormenters, 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.”

There is nothing worth comparing to this lifelong comfort sure!  Open-eyed my grave is staring:     Even there I’ll sleep secure.  Though my flesh awaits its raising, still my soul continues praising: I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!  

Do you hear that dear friends? You are a baptized saint.  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 to you eternal life and everlasting peace with God.  It is that nature which now and forever, 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!”

Who Did John Baptize?

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Epiphany 1-B, January 11, 2015
Rev. Brian Henderson—Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
http://www.TLCSD.org

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In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), but then in the middle of time, “John the baptizer appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem went out to him to be baptized.  They were drawn to John; they confessed their sins to John.  They even wondered out loud and asked if John might be the promised Savior of the Jewish people, and John said very plainly, (No, but He is coming.)  “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

And then one day, along came Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee and He presented Himself to be baptized by John in the Jordan.  [Mark 1:4-11]  Do you think that John knew whom it really was that presented Himself for baptism?  Certainly he was equipped by God to receive all that Jesus revealed Himself to be, but did He know that Jesus was from before the beginning of Creation?  Do we understand?

So in the middle of our doubts and fears, the Voice that spoke in the beginning speaks again about a new beginning.  “And when (Jesus) came up out of the water, immediately (John) saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

In the beginning God… Do you understand what those simple words mean?  Do you understand that in the beginning of all that we know as our reality, there was already God Who has no beginning?  Prior to the beginning, there was no up and no down, no here and no there.  There was nothing—except God.  He always was and always shall be.

So, in the beginning before there was anything, there was God who creates time and space, simply because He wills it.  This is Who we gather to hear from this morning; He alone deserves to be held in reverence and awe by us, His creation.  Everything exists because of Him and for Him, including you and me.  We don’t exists of ourselves or for ourselves.  We have no right to exist outside of our being in harmony and peace with our majestic Creator and His plan for us.  In His plan He makes us right with Him and each other, and He alone gives our lives great meaning.  What does it mean to have life?  It means that as people who live in the middle of time, the Eternal Creator, Who is the beginning comes to us in the middle and reveals Himself and allows us to know our own beginning and our end.

Do you understand who this Jesus that desires John’s baptism is?  He is the Logos, the Word of God, who from the beginning spoke these simple Words “Let there be light” and then there was.  Do you understand that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made”?

In Him and because of Him, we live and move and find our being.  He is the image of the invisible God.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  He is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent.  For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him (the Creator of the beginning meets sinful creation in the middle and) reconciles to Himself all things whether on earth or in heaven, making peace with sinful men and women.

But how can that be?  How can one who is in the middle with the rest of us be from the beginning; not just from the beginning, but before the beginning?

Sinful men and women can not understand the truth of who Jesus is, because not only do they run from the beginning of Creation, but they can not perceive of something before the beginning.  For although in their hearts they know there is God, they do not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they cling to their futile thinking, and pretend that their darkened foolish hearts are full of light and wisdom. So, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator they are lost in the middle.  But God still comes to sinful men and women; He will not give up moving their hearts and eyes of faith to the beginning and the end.

And here in the waters of the Jordan stands Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and the son of Mary.  Here before John and us this morning is the head of the body, the church.  He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.  In Him alone is the fullness of God and through Him alone the middle is brought back to the beginning by the blood of His cross.

Why was Jesus baptized?  Simply put, He comes to show us the way back to the beginning; to bring abundant life.  He comes as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world so that through grace we can know God’s love.  To ask why was Jesus baptized is really to ask why was Jesus born.  He was born to bring death and life; an end and a eternal beginning.  As He walks out of the waters of baptism He immediately enters into a life of service and suffering that will lead to His death upon the cross; a death that is for us, because it brings us back to the beginning and makes us right with our Creator.  But how does this help us?  Because where He leads, we follow.  We follow Him to the waters of our own baptism, and within those waters we also encounter the cross; we encounter and end to our sinful flesh as we follow Jesus who comes from the beginning.  Like Jesus, we die to live.  We emerge from our own baptism as someone who has been buried with Christ and raised to new life through the glory of the Father; a life that was the intent of the Creator in the beginning.

So consider yourselves dead.  You old self, that is your body of sin was crucified with Christ.

At the end of 2014 we celebrated the truth that God’s Son took upon Himself our human nature; He who was the source of the beginning came to us in the middle.  But He did more than come to us as one of us, He came to take on our sin.  And because of that sin, we can say that the source of the beginning takes on the nature of the middle, so that he can put an end to our fear of the end by bringing us back to the beginning.  For us He is born and for us He dies. In baptism, faith in this Son of God unites us to Him so that His death is truly our death.

In the beginning, the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  In your sins, you also were covered by darkness.  But in your baptism, the same Spirit of God that hovered over the waters in the beginning, hovered over the waters of your baptism.  In the beginning when the Logos, the Son of God spoke and said “Let there be light,” there was!  And in your baptism; the day you first entered into God’s beginning, that same Logos, the Word of God spoke a beginning for you. Through the obedience of His holy church, Christ commanded that you be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  He commanded that you be taught to observe all that He has commanded and revealed. And behold, in your baptism He gives you this great promise,  “He is with you always,” (even) to the end of this sinful age when He brings you back to the beginning.

So, if you consider yourselves dead with Christ, you must also consider yourselves alive with Him as well.

In holy baptism you have been made truly alive!  You are alive because Christ is raised from the dead.  Remember, in holy baptism you are following Christ, the source of the beginning.  You must not remain at the cross of Good Friday, but you must proceed to the empty tomb of Easter morning.  He is risen indeed!

The Father put His approval on His Son’s death by raising Him up.  Christ’s resurrection seals the atoning power of His sacrificial death for you.  The sins of the world were once and for all paid for.  And now, you too are asked to leave the tomb of death, and follow your Savior in new life; a restored life that finds its source in the beginning.

You are alive.  To be alive is to walk; to be raised to life is to be enable to walk, to move to show great evidence to all who see that you have abundant life.  Remaining in sin is to be without spiritual life; it is death.  But in Christ, that is in your baptismal newness of life you have an abundant life!  You are truly alive in Christ; alive to God.  You are to live your life with a new identity, a new status.  You are a child of God, a child of the beginning.

You are baptized; you have been born again, brought back to the beginning.  And because you are no longer imprisoned in a body of death, you are free!

You are fee to live to God in this New Year with an eternal new beginning.  What will that new life look like this year?  Only God knows.  But I do know this, you will continue to have trouble with your old sinful nature, because it does not like to die, because it is afraid of both the beginning and the end.  But you are of the beginning, and you are a new creation in Christ.  You are free; free to grow and face any challenge that awaits you.  You are free, but your old nature is not; it is bound to die, and it resents that you may live and it may not, so it will fight you.  So, you must fight it back, by daily putting it to death.  You do this when you remember your baptism; by remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus is also your death and resurrection.

I will close with this brief story about a jeweler who once told me of an easy but certain way of knowing the difference between a true diamond and a phony one.  This test is called the water test. He said that if I ever want to see the difference between the two I have to go to the water.  “An imitation diamond” he said, “is never so brilliant as a genuine stone. If you drop an imitation diamond into a glass of water, it almost disappears, but a genuine diamond sparkles even under water, and is distinctly visible.”

The moral of that little story is simple.  If through out this New Year you begin to feel discouraged and tired from fighting off your old sinful nature; if you begin to feel like sin is winning and grace and forgiveness are loosing, go back to the beginning; go back to the water, back to your baptism and remember it is there where your Creator met you and gave you new life.  Go back to the washing of the water and the Word, and let God’s Spirit dwell richly within you and shine.  AMEN.

Not You, Jesus!

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Baptism of our Lord, /Epiphany 1A, January 12th, 2013

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“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]

Our gospel reading this morning (Matthew 3:13–17) confronts us with a very real, a very human reaction to the arrival of Jesus.  It’s a perfect example of how the Son of God’s real presence breaks into our very real and normal experiences of life.  Think about this for a moment; if you were John, and God called you to preach repentance and offer baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and Jesus, whom you’ve known from childhood as the promised Messiah, approached you to receive a sinner’s baptism, wouldn’t you also have said, “No.  Not You Jesus”?

And yet, there is Jesus, coming alongside of sinners, throwing in with them, becoming one with them, and receiving something He had no need to receive.  Why do you suppose that is?

Because He IS one of us.  He came to be one of us in order to save us.  He came to remind us that we are not alone; God is with us; Jesus is Emmanuel!  He is with us in the waters of our baptism, because through His own baptism He has sanctified even blessed that water through His Word, through His real presence to make it a holy washing of water and Word.  But the banks of the Jordan were only the beginning of His mission to save mankind from sin, death, and the devil.  We must follow Him as He leaves the Jordan and hear the Father proclaim in a powerful voice: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  [Matthew 3:17]  We must see the Holy Spirit take physical form and descend on Jesus, confirming that He is and always has been the eternal Son of God, but now He is God among us; God in our own flesh, come to be our Champion and defeat our mortal enemies: sin, death, and the devil.

But we must not leave Jesus at the bank of the Jordan.  We must follow Him as He is led by that same Holy Spirit, into the wilderness to be attacked and tempted in the flesh, in our flesh by hoards of devils.  And not once did He succumb to temptation; not even once did He falter or fail.  He could not fail, because He must not fail.  And to understand this truth, we must continue following Him to Calvary, to the place of the skull where He will be crucified, put to death for our sins.  There at Golgotha, He presented His body as a holy sacrifice, without blemish, spot, or stain of sin, as the acceptable sacrifice for your sins, which He loaded upon His body that fateful day when He allowed the baptism of sinners to be applied to Him.

If you have ever watched the movie “The Passion of Christ” by Mel Gibson, you remember how graphically our Lord’s Passion was displayed on that Passover day, when Jesus also submitted to something that only sinners should have to go through; He allowed Himself to be beaten within an inch of His life, and then nailed upon the cross  to die a criminals death for our sins… FOR YOUR SINS!  I remember the first time I watched that movie how I was immediately sucked into the drama, which we call Good Friday.  I remember being shocked by how brutal and painful it was.  And suddenly, it was not just a movie; it was not a depiction of something that happened long ago, but it was real, and it was happening right then.  It was happening to Jesus because of my sins.  I remember weeping and saying out loud, “No, not You Jesus.  That should be me.  I deserve that and never you.”  And it was at that moment that I remembered the words of our Epistle reading (Romans 6:1-11), specifically these words: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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.”

Did you hear that?  YOU ARE DEAD!  Just as Christ died that bloody and painful death upon the cross, so too you, must count yourself dead along with Him.  You are dead to sin, that is your sin has no claim over you.   You are dead to the power of the devil; that is he can no longer accuse you of being like him and deserving punishment for your many sins.  And you are dead to death itself, because we know that “if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” [Vs. 5-11]

You see dear friends, just as I asked you to follow Jesus from the waters of the Jordan to the deserted place of temptation, and then to Golgotha, the hill of death, I also ask you to follow His lifeless body to the tomb where they laid Him.  I ask you to wait the full three days and then after the rock that sealed the tomb is blown away, look inside to see that the tomb is empty.  Hear the angels ask you, “Why do you seek the living among the dead!”  He is risen indeed, and so shall you.

Your baptism is not just the seal of God’s Holy Spirit, which promises that one day you also will join Jesus in paradise, but it is also the proof that He is with you right now.  He is Emmanuel, all of God with you.  You see, the Holy Spirit took residence within you the very day you were baptized.  And wherever the Spirit of God is, there also is both the Father and the Son.  Because He lives so do you.  He lives to not just assure the pardon of sins for the world, but to ensure you of your pardon; that is the promise He gave to you on that great day of your Holy Baptism… all of your sins are forgiven!  You have a super-abounding supply of grace that forgives any and all sins that have attached themselves to you.  It gives super-abounding grace so that the fiery darts of accusation, which the devil hurls at you, can never stick or separate you from the love of God, which is yours through Christ Jesus.  You have super-abounding grace so that even death is not a threat to you.  It cannot end your gladness… you are baptized into Christ.  When you die here you will leave all sadness so that you will inherit paradise.  Now, opened eyed your grave is staring and waiting, but even there you’ll sleep secure.  While your flesh awaits it’s raising, still your soul continues praising.  Because you are baptized into Christ.

So all of this being true, and no matter how many your sins or how powerfully they work to trap you, you can rest assured that grace is even more super-abounding than your sins.  To that, someone might ask, “Doesn’t it make sense then to say that the more we sin then the greater we can demonstrate the power of grace over sin, death and the devil?”

And to that question St. Paul declares, “By no means!”  You are a child of paradise.  You are no longer your own person, but you have been bought with a price.  If you choose to stay in sin, then you are saying along with John the baptizer, “Not you, Jesus.”  And if not Jesus then who?  It must be you; someone has to fulfill all righteousness.  If not Jesus, then you must be the one to walk through the temptations of the devil alone.  It must be you who will bear the burden of your many sins alone.  And finally, it must be you alone, who will pay for your sins, all because you have rejected the very Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; even your sins.

(Isaiah 42:1-9) Dear friends, we are not alone.  Jesus has marked us as His own child in our baptism by sanctifying those waters long ago.  From the water to the cross, and then to the empty tomb, He has proven that He is the servant of God for you, the beloved Son of God, whom the Spirit of God descends upon first so that you will know that the same thing was done for you.

Jesus is the One who leaves the waters of baptism sanctified for the Father’s great mission to save sinners, and then He sets out on a mission to bless and restore those who have faith in Him and His work of salvation.  He is the one who is appointed to be a covenant for the people of faith and a light for the gentiles, that is those who currently live outside of faith.

I would like to close with a story about a man who lived his entire life as a devout atheist; an enemy of Christ and His church.  One morning he was found dead in his room.  But clenched in his hand was a note with these words, which showed that at the end of life he had met the Son of God in a real sense.  The note read: “I’ve tried in vain a thousand ways my fears to quell, my hopes to raise.  But what I need, the Bible says, “Is ever, only Jesus.”  My soul is night, my heart is steel—I cannot feel; for light, for light, I must appeal in simple faith to Jesus.”

All his life, this poor soul lived a life that rejected Jesus, the Son of God as His Savior.  He lived his life proclaiming “Not you, Jesus.”  But thanks be to God, Jesus is the kind of Savior who will not break a bruised reed or puff out a faintly burning wick.”  He will never grow tired or discouraged in seeking out the lost, until He once and for all establishes justice upon the earth.  Thanks be to God that He has found you in your baptism.  Now to the life of a Christian we live, fighting sin, finding forgiveness, and waiting for eternal life in paradise.  AMEN!

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

Click here for audio of the Children’s Message

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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!