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Baptism Of Our Lord

January 6, 2018 Pastor: Rev. George Fyler

Verse: Mark 1:10–1:11

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Mark 1:4-11 ~ Heaven Opened!    Baptism of our Lord, 1/7/2018 @ CELC, Cleveland, OH

And when he came up out of the water, immediately he 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." (Mark 1:10-11 ESV)

Dear beloved of the Lord: Saturday, January 6thbegan the Epiphany season that manifests the glory and divinity of Christ to all creation. Epiphany 1presents a grand heavenly spectacle — the Baptism of Our Lord. The gospel accounts note that the heavens opened when Jesus was baptized. Mark's choice of words is quite specific. I’ll highlight his point as I read:“As soon as He (Jesus) came up out of the water, He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending ON (INTO) Him like a dove.”The firmament of the heavens is ripped open and Jesus sees this spectacle as He is baptized by John. It’s not surprising that John and Jesus, cousins which they are, be part of God’s revelation to the world of the new creation to which they were committed through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit even before they were born.  What a singular event — that heaven above be exposed to earth below! Is this a good thing or a bad thing? —for us I mean. Is this Law or Gospel?

The first time God opened the heavens, after their creation, brought destruction upon the world.“In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.”Genesis 7:11

Forty days and forty nights rain poured from the opened heavens until the last piece of high ground was flooded. The water covered the earth for 150 days and every living creature died — all except for those in the ark. The first time God opened the heavens it was all Law for those outside the ark. But for those inside, it was a cleansing of all the wickedness of the world and a preview of "Baptism which now saves you", according to St. Peter.1 Pet. 3:21Thus,opening the heavens was both Law and Gospel —death for unbelievers and life for believers. It always works out this way.  Revealing the Heavenly/Godly realm to the worldly sin-infected realm calls forth judgment and damnation or redemption and salvation. Holy Scripture records with many such climactic events.

Today we hear about the heavens opened again — ripped wide open, and God the Holy Spirit hovering down upon the dripping wet Word of God as He, the Holy Spirit, once hovered over the waters of creation in the beginning. God the Father speaks from the opened heaven His full approval of His Son.  St. Matthew reports how Jesus said that it was necessary for Him to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness.Matt. 4:15 The Father, speaking from the opened heavens, says He is fully pleased with the righteousness of His Beloved Son.Mk. 1:11

So again, I ask, is this Law or Gospel? How you receive it depends completely upon what you believe and trust about the God who speaks to you. The Pharisees rejected Baptism and so they rejected God's offered righteousness and salvation. For those who reject the Word and its revelation, it is pure damning Law. But for those who confessed their sins at the Jordan — who believed in the Promised Messiah — it was "a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."Mk. 1:4

That's what the Gospel of Mark says —believe it or not! And whether you believe it or not determines whether you receive it as a good thing or a bad thing. Baptism is meant to save you. But “Baptism now saves you” depends completely upon whether you believe in the one God who washes you clean with water and His Word with all its promises, or you reject baptism as the Pharisees did.

Either way, the heavens are ripped open — the Voice speaks a commanding Word and the Light shines in our darkness. It still happens today — yet we sinful men might wish we could sew the heavens shut so that we could continue in our sin and not have to defend against God seeing the sin we commit on the earth.  But what God opens no one can shut. And what God shuts no one can open.Gen. 7:11; Isa. 22:2; Rev. 3:7

When Adam first chose to trust the word of the crafty Serpent and not the Word of God, Adam was corrupted by sin. God posted Cherubim with a flaming sword that closed the entrance of paradise to mankind. But God has always wanted to open the heavens to His creation once again. This has been His will, since eternity, to open heaven to us. But whenever God opens the heavens, this requires a cleansing of sin.  The Holy One will not tolerate un-holiness.1 Thess. 4:7Baptism opens the heavens to us that we be cleansed and welcomed into the presence of God — so that all righteousness might be fulfilled — so that He might say to us as He said to Jesus: "You are My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

It is always "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."That means those who receive it are granted first the gift of repentance; that is, a true hatred of sin so that we want to turn our backs on sin and never sin again. And along with this desire, a hunger and a thirst for righteousness, the gift of the forgiveness of sins; that is, God no longer counting our sins against us. Baptism grants the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the new life in Christ. The refusal of God's gifts brings wrath and eternal punishment.

The malady each sinner suffers today is the constant, pervasive and persuasive temptation to believe the Devil's words rather than the Word who stands in the Jordan for our salvation. Jesus stood in the Jordan to be baptized to die so that we might be baptized to live. The open Heaven and the Voice of approval sent Him on His Mission — anointed with the Spirit.  Soon thereafter Jesus was driven out into the wilderness by the Spirit to endure the beginnings of His temptations from the Devil. There it would be revealed that Jesus believed in the Promise of His baptism. Jesus would be tested by Satan’s master ploy: "If you are the Son of God “and three years later be truthfully acclaimed by the centurion at the foot of Golgotha’s cross, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”Mk. 15:39 Now the heathen world proclaimed His epiphany.

Jesus lived to testify to His Father's Word and faithfulness. But what about you? What do you believe about your baptism? Do you believe God has opened the heavens for you? Admit it and REPENT, you struggle when it comes to trusting that God holds you as the apple of His eye. God warned His people about their doubt and distrust calling it “fraud and robbery” through the prophet  Malachi spoken 2500 years ago.  Does this not still apply today? “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, 'How shall we return?'  Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, 'How have we robbed you?' In your tithes and contributions.  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.  Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”Malachi 3:7-10 In short, do not defraud God with false repentance and half-hearted obedience.

Do you believe God has opened the windows of heaven for you? Do you trust Him to give you your daily bread and provide for all your needs? Do you trust Him enough to want to obey His commands? You don't have a 10% tithe command anymore in these NT times, but you do have the command to love one another as Jesus has loved you. Jesus gave 100% … and you can't put a dollar amount on that. Measuring and counting is the way the Law —but the Gospel deals in wholeness. Christ's Means of Grace don't just get you started, like a new year’s resolution to improve. Baptism fulfills all righteousness, 100% of righteousness and 100% of the forgiveness of sins. When it comes to mercy, God doesn't measure or calculate, He pours it out from an open heaven.

How shall you receive it? In part or in whole? Do you believe it all? Or, do you refuse to embrace some part of the gift. Baptism comes with repentance, forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, new life in Christ and adoption as sons. It's complete in every blessing and is not distributed over time. The Devil would have you question which promise you want to distrust, whichever part he can get you to refuse. Some folks falter at the repentance, others despair of the forgiveness. Jesus delivers the whole package.

Does that demand a change in your sinful life? Yes, it does. It's a package deal — you receive all of it or you get none of it. Baptism doesn't just part the curtains of heaven to give us a glimpse of man’s former glory before the fall — a glimpse of what we are missing and always will miss. Baptism rips the curtains of heaven wide open just as the curtain of the Temple was ripped from top to bottom when Jesus was crucified. Your baptism opens up for you a new and living way into the very presence of God through the Body of Christ into which you were baptized.

Remember the Cherubim that guarded the entrance to paradise? Well, guess what was embroidered upon the curtain of the Temple that was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died? The embroidered Cherubim on the curtain were there to remind us of the presence of the Holy God behind that curtain.  But now with joy we can sing these words:

"He is the Key and He the Door To blessed paradise; The angel bars the way no more. To God our praises rise, To God our praises rise.”“Let All Together Praise Our God” [LSB 389:6]

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."Hebrews 10:19-23  

Mark 1:4-11 ~ Heaven Opened!    Baptism of our Lord, 1/7/2018 @ CELC, Cleveland, OH

And when he came up out of the water, immediately he 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." (Mark 1:10-11 ESV)

Dear beloved of the Lord:

 

Saturday, January 6thbegan the Epiphany season that manifests the glory and divinity of Christ to all creation. Epiphany 1presents a grand heavenly spectacle — the Baptism of Our Lord. The gospel accounts note that the heavens opened when Jesus was baptized. Mark's choice of words is quite specific. I’ll highlight his point as I read:“As soon as He (Jesus) came up out of the water, He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending ON (INTO) Him like a dove.”

The firmament of the heavens is ripped open and Jesus sees this spectacle as He is baptized by John. It’s not surprising that John and Jesus, cousins which they are, be part of God’s revelation to the world of the new creation to which they were committed through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit even before they were born.  What a singular event — that heaven above be exposed to earth below! Is this a good thing or a bad thing? —for us I mean. Is this Law or Gospel?

The first time God opened the heavens, after their creation, brought destruction upon the world.“In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.”Genesis 7:11

Forty days and forty nights rain poured from the opened heavens until the last piece of high ground was flooded. The water covered the earth for 150 days and every living creature died — all except for those in the ark. The first time God opened the heavens it was all Law for those outside the ark. But for those inside, it was a cleansing of all the wickedness of the world and a preview of "Baptism which now saves you", according to St. Peter.1 Pet. 3:21Thus,opening the heavens was both Law and Gospel —death for unbelievers and life for believers. It always works out this way.  Revealing the Heavenly/Godly realm to the worldly sin-infected realm calls forth judgment and damnation or redemption and salvation. Holy Scripture records with many such climactic events.

Today we hear about the heavens opened again — ripped wide open, and God the Holy Spirit hovering down upon the dripping wet Word of God as He, the Holy Spirit, once hovered over the waters of creation in the beginning. God the Father speaks from the opened heaven His full approval of His Son.  St. Matthew reports how Jesus said that it was necessary for Him to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness.Matt. 4:15 The Father, speaking from the opened heavens, says He is fully pleased with the righteousness of His Beloved Son.Mk. 1:11

So again, I ask, is this Law or Gospel? How you receive it depends completely upon what you believe and trust about the God who speaks to you. The Pharisees rejected Baptism and so they rejected God's offered righteousness and salvation. For those who reject the Word and its revelation, it is pure damning Law. But for those who confessed their sins at the Jordan — who believed in the Promised Messiah — it was "a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."Mk. 1:4

That's what the Gospel of Mark says —believe it or not! And whether you believe it or not determines whether you receive it as a good thing or a bad thing. Baptism is meant to save you. But “Baptism now saves you” depends completely upon whether you believe in the one God who washes you clean with water and His Word with all its promises, or you reject baptism as the Pharisees did.

Either way, the heavens are ripped open — the Voice speaks a commanding Word and the Light shines in our darkness. It still happens today — yet we sinful men might wish we could sew the heavens shut so that we could continue in our sin and not have to defend against God seeing the sin we commit on the earth.  But what God opens no one can shut. And what God shuts no one can open.Gen. 7:11; Isa. 22:2; Rev. 3:7

When Adam first chose to trust the word of the crafty Serpent and not the Word of God, Adam was corrupted by sin. God posted Cherubim with a flaming sword that closed the entrance of paradise to mankind. But God has always wanted to open the heavens to His creation once again. This has been His will, since eternity, to open heaven to us. But whenever God opens the heavens, this requires a cleansing of sin.  The Holy One will not tolerate un-holiness.1 Thess. 4:7Baptism opens the heavens to us that we be cleansed and welcomed into the presence of God — so that all righteousness might be fulfilled — so that He might say to us as He said to Jesus: "You are My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

It is always "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."That means those who receive it are granted first the gift of repentance; that is, a true hatred of sin so that we want to turn our backs on sin and never sin again. And along with this desire, a hunger and a thirst for righteousness, the gift of the forgiveness of sins; that is, God no longer counting our sins against us. Baptism grants the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the new life in Christ. The refusal of God's gifts brings wrath and eternal punishment.

The malady each sinner suffers today is the constant, pervasive and persuasive temptation to believe the Devil's words rather than the Word who stands in the Jordan for our salvation. Jesus stood in the Jordan to be baptized to die so that we might be baptized to live. The open Heaven and the Voice of approval sent Him on His Mission — anointed with the Spirit.  Soon thereafter Jesus was driven out into the wilderness by the Spirit to endure the beginnings of His temptations from the Devil. There it would be revealed that Jesus believed in the Promise of His baptism. Jesus would be tested by Satan’s master ploy: "If you are the Son of God “and three years later be truthfully acclaimed by the centurion at the foot of Golgotha’s cross, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”Mk. 15:39 Now the heathen world proclaimed His epiphany.

Jesus lived to testify to His Father's Word and faithfulness. But what about you? What do you believe about your baptism? Do you believe God has opened the heavens for you? Admit it and REPENT, you struggle when it comes to trusting that God holds you as the apple of His eye. God warned His people about their doubt and distrust calling it “fraud and robbery” through the prophet  Malachi spoken 2500 years ago.  Does this not still apply today? “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, 'How shall we return?'  Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, 'How have we robbed you?' In your tithes and contributions.  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.  Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”Malachi 3:7-10 In short, do not defraud God with false repentance and half-hearted obedience.

Do you believe God has opened the windows of heaven for you? Do you trust Him to give you your daily bread and provide for all your needs? Do you trust Him enough to want to obey His commands? You don't have a 10% tithe command anymore in these NT times, but you do have the command to love one another as Jesus has loved you. Jesus gave 100% … and you can't put a dollar amount on that. Measuring and counting is the way the Law —but the Gospel deals in wholeness. Christ's Means of Grace don't just get you started, like a new year’s resolution to improve. Baptism fulfills all righteousness, 100% of righteousness and 100% of the forgiveness of sins. When it comes to mercy, God doesn't measure or calculate, He pours it out from an open heaven.

How shall you receive it? In part or in whole? Do you believe it all? Or, do you refuse to embrace some part of the gift. Baptism comes with repentance, forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, new life in Christ and adoption as sons. It's complete in every blessing and is not distributed over time. The Devil would have you question which promise you want to distrust, whichever part he can get you to refuse. Some folks falter at the repentance, others despair of the forgiveness. Jesus delivers the whole package.

Does that demand a change in your sinful life? Yes, it does. It's a package deal — you receive all of it or you get none of it. Baptism doesn't just part the curtains of heaven to give us a glimpse of man’s former glory before the fall — a glimpse of what we are missing and always will miss. Baptism rips the curtains of heaven wide open just as the curtain of the Temple was ripped from top to bottom when Jesus was crucified. Your baptism opens up for you a new and living way into the very presence of God through the Body of Christ into which you were baptized.

Remember the Cherubim that guarded the entrance to paradise? Well, guess what was embroidered upon the curtain of the Temple that was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died? The embroidered Cherubim on the curtain were there to remind us of the presence of the Holy God behind that curtain.  But now with joy we can sing these words:

"He is the Key and He the Door To blessed paradise; The angel bars the way no more. To God our praises rise, To God our praises rise.”“Let All Together Praise Our God” [LSB 389:6]

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."Hebrews 10:19-23

Amen.

Amen.