Sermons

Baptism of Jesus—Observed (Mt 3:13–17)

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him.” That didn’t sit well with John. (Maybe you’re confused, too!) We all know what John was about: blasting away at sinners with God’s judgment. Then Jesus shows up and acts like a sinner, just like us. What John had been doing didn’t fit with Jesus coming to sinners’ Baptism. John protested. He should’ve gone to Jesus for Baptism, not Jesus to John. So we and John think that Jesus must stay separate, and sinners must move to Him, by their doing, their repentance. He shouldn’t come and be a sinner with us.

((2. Jesus is one with us, with sinners.))

But that’s exactly what Jesus does: One of us. He’s taken on all that’s gone wrong with us, all our sins. Most sinner, most Savior. With that sin He belongs with us. There’s no separation between us and Jesus. That’s how God’s judgment, His righteousness goes. “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” “For us.” When we and John see as a necessary separation—“No sinner’s Baptism for you!”—Jesus gently pushes past and tells John, “We are in this together, this fulfilling of all righteousness.” That’s how God is toward us, how His righteousness is fulfilled.

Jesus is the promised Righteous One of Isaiah 53 “The Righteous One, My Servant, shall make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities.” There’s another name of the Christ: Servant, Son. We see that Jesus is the Righteous One, who bears our iniquities, because He’s baptized with sinners’ baptism. And there’s a Word of God put upon it so that we may believe and receive all that is in Jesus for us.

The star led the Magi to Jerusalem in their search for the King of the Jews: wrong place, wrong king. To the star were added God’s own Word of promise, and so the star and Word of God led them to Bethlehem and to the one, true King. We only know what’s going on only if there’s a Word of God put upon it.

So, today: “This is My Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Our Old Testament lesson stands fulfilled in Jesus when He was washed with sinner’s baptism: “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.” God’s justice is His righteousness, and the Fulfiller of all righteousness is baptized that His righteousness would be ours. Where His righteousness, there we. His righteousness as much ours as our sins are His. Jesus joins us in our sin, bears it, and fulfills all righteousness to make us righteous. In Jesus we are the very righteousness of God Himself, and in this exchange, this move that Jesus—not us—does God has His delight.

((1. You are one with Jesus.))

God’s delight is only in Jesus, His beloved Son, and that’s where you are, too. What is yours is His, and what’s His is yours. God delights in you, too! If our hearts would really take this in, they’d burst for joy into a hundred thousand pieces. In a world that’s full of sin, sickness, disease, disability, death, and the devil himself, there is only one place where God’s delight dwells: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

That’s where you are, united with Jesus. The Father’s words bring us to see that His delight and whole heart are in Christ—in all His Words and in all He does. So that to see Christ is to see both the heart and delight of God. Now, since Christ is a dear and pleasing Child, held in both the delight and heart of God, and since He is yours, in all He says and does, and in all things is your sin-bearing, suffering Servant, so surely that delight is in you, too. And you are as deep in the heart of God as Christ. God, Christ, you—all together, like one thing.

Do you live your day to day life where Christ is, where God has His delight? Is that how your life goes? Yes, but only because you’re in Christ, because God has put His Word, His Name upon you, too, with the water of your Baptism. You’re not a doubtful, meaningless, hopeless individual, a bunch of atoms bouncing around. You have a Word of God put upon you! Not only at your Baptism, but Jesus’ Baptism, too, for there He is one with you, and you with Him. Because Jesus is beloved Son, you are a son or daughter, too, delighted in and beloved.

So, you can’t just live your life fearful, guilt-ridden, nobody-loves-me, me-against-the-world, me-separate, all alone. When John or you see life as separate (the John thing, the you thing and the Jesus thing as alternatives or options), Jesus simply say, “No, us.” And when Jesus says, “Us,” He takes on what you are (sinner), and He gives you what He is (the Righteousness of God). The Righteous One truly fulfills all righteousness, and you are in on that—right where God says you are at—in His delight, with Jesus because JESUS IS NOT SEPARATE FROM BUT TRULY IS UNITED WITH YOU.

And as if that weren’t enough, Jesus now gives into you His body and His blood, together-ed with Him. “Us”-ed. It goes with you as it goes with Him.

INI + AMEN.

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