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The Baptism of Our Lord

January 13, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Epiphany

Passage: Romans 6:1–6:11

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Romans 6:1-11
Date: January 13th, 2019; The Baptism of Our Lord; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • If Christmas celebrates the Father’s giving of the gift of Christ Jesus to us sinners, then the season of Epiphany might be said to be the Father unwrapping this gift for us.
  • Again, the word epiphany is from a Greek word that means to “reveal” or to make “manifest”.
  • The three primary events of Epiphany are the visit of the Wise Men, which we heard about last Sunday; the Baptism of our Lord in the Jordon River, from our Gospel lesson for today; and Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana, which we will hear about next Sunday.
  • In the Baptism of our Lord we see God revealing Jesus as the Messiah in such a clear and bold manner - the heavens opened up; the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form like a dove; and the Father’s voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
  • What a great epiphany was the Baptism of our Lord!
  • We read in the Gospel of St. Mark that, “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).
  • A good question to ask about the Baptism of our Lord - is why was Jesus baptized if he wasn’t a sinner?
  • Jesus had nothing to repent for and he committed no sins that needed forgiveness.
  • John the Baptist wrestled with this question when Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, came to be baptized by him.  
  • John said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3:14).
  • So why was Jesus baptized if he wasn’t a sinner?
  • The answer to this question makes much more sense when we understand why Jesus came to earth in the first place.
  • Jesus came to save us.
  • We hear Jesus describe his mission in the Gospel of St. Luke when he taught, “The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
  • In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus says, “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).
  • So, when Jesus was baptized, it was part of his work to fulfill his mission to save us - it was to fulfill all righteousness, as he told his cousin John (Matthew 3:15).
  • When Jesus was baptized, he took the sins and burdens and death of humanity onto himself - and then he imparted his perfect holiness and righteousness onto us in our baptismal waters. 
  • When he died on the cross, all of our sins were crucified there with him, done away with once and for all. 
  • And so all who receive Baptism in the name of Jesus become clothed with his perfect righteousness (Galatians 3:27). 
  • Our sins become Jesus’ - and his perfection becomes ours. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). 
  • This is what we have received through our baptism.
  • St. Paul teaches in his letter to the Romans that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.
  • That means that our original sinful nature has been buried with Christ in Baptism, along with all of the sinful things that we have thought, said, and done.
  • All of the selfishness and lovelessness, all of the mistakes, all of the anger and jealousy, all of the lust, all of the broken promises, all of the lies and deceit - all of it - is crucified, dead, and buried with Christ.    
  • Our sinful nature and sinful acts have been put to death.
  • St. Paul teaches in our epistle lesson, “We know that our old [sinful] self was crucified with [Christ] 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” (Romans 6:6-7).
  • Our whole life on earth is baptized into Christ’s death, drenched in the blood of Jesus, so that our life of sin is drowned and buried and brought to nothing.
  • You might say, “Yeah, but what about this struggle with sin that I continue to live with, the sinful desires that continue to pull at me, and the times that I still fail and fall into sin?”
  • Well, the days of struggling with our sin are numbered.
  • They are numbered because there are two deaths.
  • One is a spiritual death to sin.
  • This spiritual death is gracious and merciful because it leads to heavenly, perfect, and eternal life.
  • The other death, physical death, is also gracious and merciful - but only because it follows our spiritual death.
  • So, really, our physical death shouldn’t be considered death at all.  
  • It is described as a mere sleep in Scripture because anyone who has already died to sin in Christ - has already escaped death (1 Corinthians 15:6).
  • The eternal death that we inherited from Adam through sin has been defeated by Christ Jesus.
  • So if our eternal death is dead, then what can harm us?
  • Even if our bodies still have to be laid in the ground because of sin - that death is a death without sting.  It’s temporary.  It’s a mere sleep.
  • The reality is that as long as we live on earth, our sinful nature remains.  
  • We will continue to experience the consequences of sin - the harm, the suffering, and the guilt.
  • So hear and trust and receive God’s gift and promise that he has freed you from sin.
  • God has freed you from eternal death and damnation - by putting your sin to death and by making you alive in Christ through water and the Spirit.
  • This is our life in Christ: we put the desires of our sinful flesh to death by the Spirit, by daily repenting of our sins - and by daily remembering our baptism to drown that old Adam that is in us. 
  • That’s what it means to live in your baptism.
  • It’s to die to sin, to die to self, to die to the world, to die to anything that would lure us away from who we are in Christ.
  • Because if we are in Christ - we have pure and everlasting life!    
  • “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him”, St. Paul says in our reading from Romans.
  • Our old sinful nature has been put to death in Christ.  He has saved us and we live with him.
  • We live the life he always intended for us - a life of love and devotion to God, a life of love and service to each other.
  • My brothers and sister in Christ, you are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ.
  • This is who you are.  Live it.  Thanks be to God! Amen.
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The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Epiphany

March 3, 2019

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

February 24, 2019

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

February 17, 2019

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany