In the Name of Jesus
Matthew 3,13-17 0912
1. Sonntag nach Epiphanias 014 grün oder weiß
Severin, Apostle of Noricum, † 481
8. January 2012
1. O God, Father of all grace and mercy, we praise You that You have also revealed the Redeemer of the world unto us unenlightened Gentiles, and has enlightened us to realize that Jesus is the Light of the Gentiles and our salvation unto the ends of the earth. Grant us Divine grace to walk worthily of our heavenly calling (Löhe 455-56), receiving Him by faith whom You verbally declared to be Your beloved Son with whom You are well pleased, Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
2. Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented Him, saying: „I need to be baptized by You, and You come to me?“ But Jesus answered him: „Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.“ Then John consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said: „This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.“
3. „In today’s Gospel we hear the word of the Father at Jesus’ baptism: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. We will hear this word again on the Last Sunday after Epiphany in the Gospel for the Transfiguration of Jesus. The word of the Father through the Son is the framework of Epiphany“ (Wenz § 1).
4. The season of Christmas came to an end two days ago with the Feast of Epiphany and the visit of the magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. Christmas is about giving and receiving gifts, for God the Father’s gift to us is His dear Son. In Christ, your Heavenly Father shows you His deep and abiding love. Jesus brings us the gifts of forgiveness, righteousness and eternal salvation.
5. It is not easy for people to freely accept gifts, especially from God. We have an innate desire to do things on our own. We think that we should at least do something for God to justify the great gift He has given us in His Son. Surely, we rationalize, it is fair to think that God expects us to perform some good deeds to prove that we have merited His gracious gift of forgiveness. Over the course of Church history we can trace how theologians argued that Christians should perform some good deed or an act of penance to legitimize God’s merciful attitude toward us.
6. John the Baptizer, however, has the right attitude: Jesus should be baptizing sinful John, not John baptizing the holy Son of God. But Jesus tells His cousin: »Let it be that you baptize Me, for it is proper for us to fulfill all righteousness.« In fulfilling this righteousness, Jesus stepped into the Jordan River, bowed His head and allowed John to pour the water upon His holy head. By stepping into the Jordan and receiving John’s baptism of repentance, Jesus declared solidarity with us poor, miserable sinners.
7. For some, this is a stumbling block. Jesus must stay separate, and we must move to Him – so some think (Nagel 43). Jesus should not come and be a sinner with us (Nagel 43). If you cannot deign for Jesus to step into the water among the other sinners, then you want another Jesus, a Jesus who is different from the one presented to us in the Holy Scriptures. In Matthew 3, Jesus is in the midst of, and with, sinners. He yields to the same baptism that the Jewish sinners were receiving from John the Baptizer. „Jesus takes on all that has gone wrong with us – all our sins. Jesus is most sinner, most Savior. With that sin, He belongs with us. There is no distance or separation between us and Christ“ (Nagel 43). Jesus, then, begins His public ministry by receiving a baptism of repentance, with us, and binds Himself to us in all our corrupt and wicked sinfulness.
8. In His baptism, Jesus reveals His righteousness, and yours. God has become man, and He does not shy away from you or your sins. Is there any greater joy, grace or righteousness than this? Is there now anything that Christ would withhold from you? Is there no blessing that Christ would not shower upon you? Indeed, God the Father has sent you His very Son. Jesus is baptized by John. Jesus is one of you. All that is Christ’s He now gives to you. His righteousness is now your righteousness.
9. There can be no doubt about your salvation here. The Holy Spirit flew down like a dove and sat on Jesus’ shoulder; God the Father spoke from heaven that Jesus is His Beloved Son, and He is therefore pleased with Jesus. The baptism of Jesus shook the very foundation of the devil’s earthly reign. The voice of the Heavenly Father deafened Satan’s ears and the Holy Spirit sent the devils fleeing in distress. In your Holy Baptism has God’s righteousness been given freely unto you. The Baptismal waters are for you a holy bathe that washed away all your sins and made you a child of God, but that same Baptismal water is a searing acidic water that burns the devil and drives Him away.
10. Jesus’ righteousness is given to you in baptism. Jesus’ baptism is vicarious, for sinners, pointing forward to His crucifixion and resurrection in the place of sinners (Gibbs 185). In your Holy Baptism you are joined to Christ and united with Him in His death and resurrection (Romans 6,3-6). In Christ’s death you have died to sin. In Christ’s resurrection you have risen from the Baptismal waters into the newness of eternal, resurrected life. Yes, Christ has saved you in your Baptism. »You are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus« (Romans 6,11). God the Father’s words spoken to Jesus at His baptism are now spoken upon you: »You are My beloved son, My beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased.« You are righteous before God, for you stand before Him covered with the pure and holy righteousness of Jesus Christ. Amen.
11. Let us pray. O Good God, who leads us on level ground, teach us to do Your will, so that we are always ready to give an account of Your precious gospel to our neighbors. Amen.
One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you!
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern.
Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 1:1– 11:1. Copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Löhe, Wilhelm. Seed-Grains of Prayer: A Manual for Evangelical Christians. Wartburg Publishing House, Chicago circa 1912. Concordia Publishing House; Concordia on Demand.
Nagel, Norman. Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis. Frederick W. Baue, Ed. Copyright © 2004 Concordia Publishing House.
Wenz, Armin. A sermon preached on 10. January 2010 (1. So. n. Epiphanias) in Oberursel, Germany on Romans 12,1-8. Copyright © 2010 The Rev. Dr. Armin Wenz. The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind, Tr. © 2012.