Photo by Ryan Loughlin on Unsplash
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
“This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.”
The Lord puts Himself out there. There’s no staying bottled up in heaven, expecting you or me or anyone else to find some way to Him. He appears, Epiphanies. “Jesus comes.” “Heaven was opened,” we’re told. “Torn open,” to use Mark’s language. Nothing will stop Him. The Spirit shows up like a dove. The Father speaks. All for your benefit.
His love motivates Him, shifts Him outward toward you. You aren’t some afterthought to what God does. The Lord isn’t self-absorbed. It’s not that the Father, Son, and Spirit, hang out and only decide to act outwardly only when something so wonderful comes along. That’s human love. The Love of God is never self-absorbed. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united together in love. “God is love.”
But the love of God doesn’t stop there. What kind of love would that be? God’s love breaks out. The love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit results not only in the creation of everything, including you, but it ends with your redemption and your sanctification. God doesn’t go looking for what He loves and desires. Instead, He creates what He loves and desires.
There are no expectations or demands. Sinners aren’t expected to become saints. He makes them saints. The unloveable aren’t asked to become lovable, savable, or redeemable. No, the Father loves, saves, and redeems. He makes you what you would never be left to yourself. You, like Jesus, are beloved, and it all happens through Jesus, His own Son.
THE FATHER MAKES YOU BELOVED IN HIS BELOVED SON.
((I. Only He does the making you beloved.))
When THE FATHER MAKES YOU BELOVED, He alone does the making you beloved. He does the choosing, He does the calling. He’s God. He does the sending of His Son. He points all to Him. The Spirit does, too. You didn’t have anything to do with His creating. He’s your Creator, and you’re His creature. So also His making you beloved. He chooses you, and you’re chosen. He calls you; you are called. He loves you in sending His Son, and so you are loved, BELOVED IN HIS BELOVED SON.
He must take the initiative because in ourselves we aren’t beloved. Not according to His own standards. God doesn’t settle. Human love may settle, but most often we try to seek out people who have the traits we already want. We’re already looking for what we love! Maybe we do that because we know that we don’t have the power to change others into what we want them to be. The true source of the problem is that human love is inherently selfish.
Thanks to Adam and Eve we aren’t what God created us to be. Sin breaks stuff: us, our relationships with each other, our relationship with God. There’s nothing in us that isn’t spoiled by sin. It’s not pretty. It’s not popular. But it’s true. What’s God to do, then? When people turn out to be something different from what we thought they were or what we want them to be, we cast them aside. Selfish love. But that’s not how God does things.
He could cast us off. He doesn’t do sin, doesn’t want it around. But He manifests, epiphanies His love by sending His Son. He doesn’t send His Son to find out if we are redeemable, to see if there’s some small something that’s salvageable about us. He knows, better than we do, that we aren’t the way He created us to be. Because you’re a sinner and do the sins you do daily and much, you aren’t you aren’t worthy, aren’t holy. Yet, He saves you. Sends His Son. He wants to make you what He eternally planned for you to be, and so “the love of God does not find but creates what is its desire.” (Heidelberg Disputation 28) Or to put it another way: THE FATHER MAKES YOU BELOVED.
((II. He only does it in His beloved Son.))
When THE FATHER MAKES YOU BELOVED, He only does it in His beloved Son. Otherwise why send Him? If you could do it anyway yourself, there’s no need for Jesus. But the Lord knows better. IN HIS BELOVED SON He shows His love, and IN HIS BELOVED SON, only in Him, He MAKES YOU BELOVED. He shifts outward to the sinner. Sinners “came out to the Jordan to be baptized by John.”
That’s the water Jesus gets in to! He unites Himself to sinners. “When the love of God lived among mankind, He loved sinners, the wicked, the foolish, and the weak.” (HD 28) He did that to “make them righteous, good, wise, and strong. [That’s how] the love of God poured out good and all the more delivered it. For this reason sinners are beautiful because they are loved. They are, then, not loved because they are beautiful.” (HD 28) That’s how human love works, but not God’s love. YOU ARE BELOVED IN GOD’S BELOVED SON.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world…what is weak in the world…what is low and despised in the world…so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. Or as Jesus says elsewhere, “I came not to call the righteous but sinners.”
Jesus does it by “fulfilling all righteousness” for you. He takes on your sins. He gets baptized with sinner’s baptism. He lives perfectly for you. He bears your punishment. He suffers God’s wrath over your sin. He dies in your place, crucified for you. The “righteous requirements” of the Law stand fulfilled in Jesus. He “is raised for your justification.” You are declared innocent before God only IN HIS BELOVED SON. In Him you are forgiven, in Him you are saved, in Him you are loved. “Let Him who boasts boast in the Lord.” Christ alone for you.
He makes it yours. This Jesus, God’s beloved Son, really “became for us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” You are baptized into Him. His righteousness is yours, as much as your sin was His. You’re clothed with Him and His righteousness. He is your holiness. You’re baptized into His redemption, into His death and resurrection. Fed with it, too: His body and blood. Now, IN HIS BELOVED SON, being baptized into Him, abiding in Him through His body and blood, what the Father says of Jesus, He says about you, too: “This is My beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” Faith grasps hold of this, boasts only in the Lord.
THE FATHER MAKES YOU BELOVED IN HIS BELOVED SON. He’s not like you or me. When things are broken or unfixable, well, He just makes them new. He makes you new. He knows left to ourselves we aren’t what He wants us to be, but in His great mercy He “does not find or look for but creates what He wants.” (HD 28) “This is the love of the cross, born out of the cross. This love shifts itself outward, not where it finds the good that it enjoys, but where [God] delivers good to the wicked and needy” (HD 28), forgiveness to sinners.
That’s what the Father does for you. HE MAKES YOU BELOVED IN HIS BELOVED SON, who was born, baptized, died and rose for you. Jesus is your Righteousness, your Sanctification, your Redemption. You’re baptized. In Him you are beloved to His Father, and He will make you beloved toward those around you, too. This He does for you. Faith trusts that He does it, because He does it!
“Let Him who boasts boast in the Lord.” Because of what He’s done, “we may regard as saints [people] that are very far from holiness.” (Bondage of the Will) Far in yourself. But not far in Jesus. THE FATHER MAKES YOU BELOVED IN HIS BELOVED SON, and so with you He is well pleased.
1 thought on “Baptism of Our Lord (Mt 3:13–17; 1 Cor 1:26–31)”
A message that NEVER grows old – the amazement of pondering simultaneous saint and sinner, and at the same time being a beloved son of God!