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I Need To Be Baptized By You

January 7, 2017 Pastor:

Topic: Baptism of Jesus

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
January 8, 2017
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Baptism of our Lord
I Need To Be Baptized By You

“I need to be baptized by you.” Matthew 3:14

The feast we celebrate today, the Lord’s baptism, is a seminal event in the life Jesus, and one that means calm and consolation; life and salvation, for every sinner great and small.

For you see, our Lord was not baptized in the Jordan for the same reason that we are baptized at the font today. We are washed in order to cleanse us from our sin, and make us children of God, but Jesus had no such need. First because he is without sin, and secondly because he is the Beloved Son of God from eternity, the One in whom the Father is delighted and well-pleased.

We, on the other hand, are not without our faults. Not by a long shot. Instead we are conceived by sinful parents, born on the wrong side of the fence, and live by our own crippled code of conduct all the days of our lives. Nor are we by nature children of the Heavenly Father as Jesus is, but Prodigals who left the family home, spurned the family table, made our fatal “declaration of independence,” and are in frantic need of reconciliation; desperate need to be reunited to the Living God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who is the only source of life and salvation.

And this is what we get when we leave the Galilee of sin, and come to the Jordan of the Font, to obtain the church’s primary sacrament.

In Holy Baptism our crimes against God, against Reason, Rationality and Nature are pardoned; we are set apart for God; and otherwise set free from the sins of our fathers, which dog people for generations.

In Holy Baptism we are “begotten from above” so that we should no longer be subject to the fear of death or the despotism of the devil. Talk about possessive, and controlling? That is the devil middle name! The Evil One whose only pleasure is to crash our lives, defile our flesh, destroy our families, disturb the peace, pollute our souls, and at all costs to keep us away from the Font and the Altar, which are the office of the Great Physician, where sin sick souls are healed with the Balm of Gilead. (Jer. 46:11)

But Jesus was baptized for a different reason: to “fulfill all righteousness.” But when we hear the word “righteousness” in Scripture we should not think ethics and morality, at least not at first.

But instead “righteousness” is a word that describes the condition of things when the Spirit of God has renewed the face of the earth by a new, and never-to-be-compromised, redemptive act. It means to bring God’s age-old, but never-forgotten, promise of revitalization to its conclusion.

Redemption that started with his baptism in the Jordan, but was finished with his bloody baptism on the cross, when God’s own Lamb bowed his “sacred head” in death to lift away, and otherwise delete the curse of sin from the world. And who, at that selfsame moment, handed over the Holy Spirit to the world (John 19:30) so that souls blinded by Satan should see the invisible, and do the impossible.

And so it is by our Lord’s double Baptism, and by our One baptism into him that we: sinners that we are, moral failures that we are, fast-fading, aged people that we are forfeiting our lives one piece at a time … gain access to this grace in which we now stand: God be praised!

At his baptism our Lord was not anointed or chrismated with oil as was symbolically done throughout the Old Testament for prophets, priests and kings. Those were but forecasts of the feast we celebrate today. But here at the Jordan Rive the Man Jesus; the One who is God’s authentic Prophet, Priest and King, is anointed with nothing less than the Holy Spirit of God. He whom the church rightly confesses to be: the Lord and Giver of life. (Romans 8:11)

That Spirit most definitely does dwell in all the baptized: and so if you are baptized rejoice and be glad O people of God, for great is your reward in heaven!

If you are baptized, renew your baptismal vow each day by drowning your old sinful nature, and rising up to serve God in righteousness and purity forever.

If you are not baptized, or unsure, you too can rejoice with the people of God O Gentiles because, “today is the day of salvation.” Today you can believe. Today you can learn what it means to be begotten from above. Today you can confess along with St. John the Baptist, “I need to be baptized by you!” Today you can leave the “broad and easy road that leads to destruction” and to walk anew on the narrow but glorious way that leads to life.” Jesus is the Way, Jesus is the Truth, Jesus is the Life, and no one can come to the Father by any other Savior or any other Sacrament.

For those who are baptized, but have left the baptismal covenant, let them too say, “I need to be baptized by you.” Not that they should repeat the Rite once conferred. But that they should re-think their present course. Think about the wages of sin, and the Final Judgment. Renounce Satan, and repent and once again believe the Gospel of Christ.

For those who live in their baptism each day they too can say, “I need to be baptized by you.” Which in this case is a recognition of the fact that Christians live by mercy, and by mercy alone. And that without the Spirit conferred in Baptism, and without the pronouncement of the Father to each baptized child of God, “This is my beloved son in whom I am delighted,” we have nothing, are nothing and can do nothing. For our Lord says in St. John: I am the Vine, you are the branches, apart from me you can do nothing. (15:5)

But with these unspeakable blessings we can confess with King David, “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want!” We can say with St. Paul, “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16). We can calmly face every trial, bear every burden, fade away in confidence, rest in peace, and be raised to glory in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet sounds. Amen.