Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
The Lord comes exactly when He means to, exactly the way He means to. There’s no telling Him what to do. He’s the Lord—not you or me or anyone else. That’s Advent. That’s Christmas, too. The Lord comes His way in His time: “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,” and eventually, “suffered under Pontius Pilate,” too.
The Lord comes His way. Comes where, when, and how He means to. That’s Holy Baptism—His coming to you. Baptism is what He says it is, does what He says it does, gives what He says it gives. There’s no arguing with Him over that. Well, at least there shouldn’t be. The Water and Word do what He says they do. You can take it or leave it, but either way His Water and Word do what He wants them to do.
The Lord calls the shots. He said He’d do it, and so He comes. Advent. Christmas. Manger in Bethlehem. Calvary’s Cross. Easter’s empty tomb. All His way, His way of saving you. It’s why He came. He will come again, too. That’s Advent. He already came to you. That’s Holy Baptism. That’s Advent, too! Baptism is how He delivers salvation to you. It’s His Baptism—His Water, His Word, His Gift to you, His Salvation for you. No arguing. He’s the Lord, your Lord, Savior. His Salvation done and delivered His way. All for you.
THE LORD COMES HIS WAY TO SAVE YOU.
((I. The Lord came and saved Naaman.))
Naaman called the shots. He was used to that. Generals like being in charge, and they aren’t generals for nothing. Orders are given and followed. That’s especially the case when you’re good at what you do, and Naaman was. Naaman “was a great man with his master and in high favor.” “He was a mighty man of valor.” He had raided the land of Israel, but there was something he couldn’t fix. No orders to give. No victories to win. In fact, Naaman had already lost. Naaman “was a leper.”
He was pointed in the right direction. Israelite slave girl told him. Worth much more than he probably paid for her, and what love for her neighbor! So, Naaman’s off to Israel, off to the king, off to Elisha, the Man of God. The whole way, Naaman is still trying to call the shots. He’s in charge. He’s got power. He’s got money. He’ll be able to pay. He’ll be able to handle whatever the prophet tells him to do.“Ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, ten changes of clothing, horses, chariots, standing at Elisha’s door.”
The Lord won’t be bought. He calls the shots, not Naaman. So also, the Man of God. A messenger delivers the Word: “Wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored, and you will be cleansed.” “This is ridiculous!” Naaman says. “Doesn’t this prophet know who I am? He didn’t even come out and see me! A messenger? No one sends a messenger to Naaman! He should come out here, say his magic words, and wave his hands to cure me! Water from the Jordan? That’s stupid! Who’d ever heard of such a thing? I’ve got better waters at home!” “So he turned around and went away in a rage.”
The Lord’s way wasn’t Naaman’s way. The Lord can’t be bought. There’s no cooperating, no collaborating, no bargaining, no games, no power-plays. He’s the Lord. “Might as well, try it,” the servants say. So, He does. Why not? Might work. He did come all this way. It was the quest, as silly as it was… And the Word from God’s man did what it said. The Lord came to Naaman in that water, as Elisha promised. The Lord came His way to save Naaman, so “his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
((II. The Lord came and saved you, too.))
Our flesh likes to call the shots. But we only have a delusion of control. Your flesh, who you are by yourself apart from the Lord, is good at what you do: your sins, your behaving. We try to behave our way out of our sin problem. We have our pet sins. All of it leprosy. Sin is. Our personal behaving to balance the scales is just sin on top of sin.
The Lord won’t be bought or bargained with. He runs the show. He’s the Lord, not you or me or anyone. The Lord comes—His way, His time, His place. All of it to save you because the truth is, like Naaman, there’s nothing you can do. Your sinfulness has you. Maybe you care. Maybe you don’t, but you should. The end is death. You and I have already lost. But to the loser He gives His victory. The least He lifts up. The dead He raises. Those who’ve got thoughts, words, actions, and lives that are full of sin, He forgives.
Bethlehem. Calvary. Empty tomb. That’s what Jesus does to do it. He saves you there, then, His way. That’s why He came. But the full manger in Bethlehem, the full Cross, the full then empty tomb all mean the same thing. It’s like we sang tonight: “From God the Father, virgin-born To us the only Son came down; By death the font to consecrate, The faithful to regenerate.” Full manger, full cross, full then empty tomb mean a full font. A font and water full of the Lord’s own Word and Salvation.
It’s the Lord’s show, the Lord’s Baptism, the Lord’s Gift for you. It does what He says it does, just like Elisha’s word for Naaman, so also Jesus’ Word about baptism rings true. “Make disciples by baptizing them.” “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” His messenger Paul says, Baptism is the “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…that we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” His messenger Peter says, “Baptism now saves you.”
No arguing. You could take or leave it. He’s the Lord. The Gift does what He says it does. He comes His way. Water and Word is His way, His advent to you. Jesus spoke through His man, His pastor. Jesus’ Word and Water were delivered so you did receive all Jesus’ blessings. You could ignore the Gift by going back to your sin and death and trying to behave. But His Gift remains for you. His Salvation. He calls the shots. He’s the Lord. Through Baptism, you’re a child of God, a disciple, a new creation, you have eternal life, the Spirit, faith given to you, Christ’s own righteousness. You are baptized into Christ.
The Lord comes His way, exactly where, when, and how He means to. He comes to save, to fix the sin problem. He fixed Naaman’s problem. Saved Him, from His leprosy, and from His unbelief. No longer did Naaman trust in Hadad, one of the false gods of Syria. No, after this Naaman trusted in Yahweh, the God of Israel. The God who saved Naaman “without any merit or worthiness” in Naaman. Free salvation from the Lord, spoken through His man, delivered through the waters of the Jordan, right to Naaman.
So also you. THE LORD COMES HIS WAY TO SAVE YOU. To save you from your sin problem—behaving problem, too. That’s Advent. That’s Christmas. That’s Holy Baptism, too. The Lord comes where, when, and how He wants. Water and Word for Naaman. Bethlehem. Calvary. Empty tomb. Water and Word for you, too. You’re baptized. You’re saved. You’re washed. The Lord did it all. From Bethlehem, through Calvary, to whichever Font you were baptized at. THE LORD COMES HIS WAY TO SAVE YOU. So, you are. You’re baptized. What a Happy Advent!
INI + AMEN.