Jan 15 - Behold the Lamb of God!
Jan 6 - Who is Jesus, Really.
Jan 1 - God Delivers
Baptism of Jesus - January 8, 2017
Ray Huff, Certified Lay Minister
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Good morning. My name is Ray Huff and I am an authorized lay worship leader for the Upper Susquehanna Synod. I am very thankful for the opportunity to be able to lead us in worship this week.
It is an honor to be able to share the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ's birth, death and resurrection and to partake of the Lord's Supper with you.
I love to read stickers on a car. What is on a person's car says a lot about the owner. I can tell where the person went to or claims to have gone to school. I can tell where the kids are honor students at a school. I can tell where the parents are sending their money after their kids graduate from high school. Then the cycle continues.
I can tell what sports team they follow. I can tell their political views and how they feel about different things in society. All of this information is available on either a sticker or a bumper sticker saying.
There is a fancy word for many of those sayings on the car. The word is aphorism. An aphorism is a short saying, expressing a general truth, principle, or astute observation, “Know thyself” and “...to thine own self be true” are a couple of aphorisms that stick in my mind.
That brings me to the big question in life...So, who am I? Am I the son of my father-the husband of my wife-the father of my children-the grandfather of my perfect grandchildren? I guess the answer to that question depends on a lot of things.
Am I the teacher, the principal, the coach, the veteran, the council president or the Authorized Lay Worship Leader or just some old man in baggy pants who is now a ROMEO when he eats breakfast with his retired buddies? Oh, ROMEO stands for Retired Old Men Eating Out. I guess the answer to that question depends on a lot of things. Sometimes, if I wait a while, I'll probably forget the question. That seems to happen more and more these days.
This is all a roundabout way of getting to the baptism of Jesus. We have lots of background in today's lessons. Bear with me as I refer to the psalm. In Psalm 29, God's power is a terrifying thing. The sound of His voice brings forth creation, shakes the mountains and trees, and unleashes the great flood that destroyed the earth. We sinners might be destroyed by the power of His Holy, powerful voice.
Yet “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). God came to us in Jesus to speak of His love and grace. In Baptism, flood and voice combine to cleanse us (this Psalm was traditionally used at Baptisms [Lutheran Study Bible]).
God's voice thunders and flashes forth flames in the Psalm. This is the omnipotent God who will judge us for our sins. That's a terrifying thought for us sinners.
But Isaiah's words give us an absolute comfort. “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations”. All three persons of the Trinity are mentioned in the first verse: I, My servant, and my Spirit.
God chose to call many individuals His servants. These are seen throughout the Old Testament - from Abraham through Moses through David. As you read through the lesson, Jesus is described as one who will not cry aloud...who will not break a reed...who will take you by the hand and keep you...who will be given as a covenant for the people...who will cause the former things to pass and declare new things.
Last Sunday, Lou Kolb told us from Luke 2 that the baby was named Jesus by His parents on the eighth day after his birth. Matthew doesn't say much, if anything, about the early life of Jesus.
So who was John the Baptist? We know that John was an outdoors man, to say the least. John came preaching in the wilderness of Judea and cried out “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. He wanted the people of Israel to have a radical transformation of the entire person, to be converted from unbelief to faith.
We know that Jesus traveled over 15 miles to be baptized by his cousin John. John had refused to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees because they failed to repent. He even called them a brood of vipers. Because Jesus was without sin, John also wanted to refuse Baptism to “this One who was mightier than he”. John said that he needed to be baptized by Jesus.
Jesus needed John's baptism so that he would be able to be a man to take the sins of man unto himself. John consented and baptized Jesus. Then, all heaven broke loose. When Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water... the heavens were opened and a dove came to rest on Him. The entire Trinity was revealed when the Father's voice declared Jesus to be His beloved Son and the Spirit descended on Him. Remember God's voice in the Psalm and contrast this with His voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”.
In the celebration of the Epiphany of our Lord, Mary and Joseph named the baby Jesus. It was important for him to have a name on that day. This week we find out who Jesus really is - God's Son.
Let's bring it back to us. Who are we? Thanks to Jesus, the water of God's wrath and punishment for our sins becomes the water by which we are washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb. We are, by His grace, children of God. God saved Noah and his family during the Flood; God led the Israelites through the Red Sea. Baptism gives us a new covenant through water and the word.
In baptism the pastor announces that those baptized are welcomed as members of the priesthood we all share in Jesus Christ, and that we may proclaim the praise of God and bear his creative and redeeming Word to all the world.
We reply by saying that “We welcome you into the Lord's family. We receive you as fellow members of the body of Christ, children of the same heavenly Father, and workers with us in the kingdom of God” (LBW).
Who am I and who are you? We are sinners who have been saved through our baptism into God's family.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, You stood next to sinners in the waters of the Jordan. Stand with us now, and wash away our sins. Amen.
Please note: The preceding sermon is provided as a resource for the thought, prayer, and meditation of the members and friends of St. Mark's. It is the residue of a verbal event, and thus it does not have academic footnotes and other details that would be expected in a written document. The writer gladly acknowledges the prior thought and work of many Christians before him.