“When Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water…”
᛭ INI ᛭
“It’s the glory of God to hide something; it’s the glory of kings to seek something out.” That’s what God reveals to us in Proverbs. His glory is to hide, as Isaiah says, “Truly, you are a God who hides Himself.” The entire life of Jesus bears this out, but God hiding Himself is especially seen in the Baptism of our Lord.
The Lord doesn’t do things like we do things. Kings take credit for their accomplishments. The wise of this world revel in their research, their conclusions, their hard work, their “look what I can do,” their “look what I’ve done,” their trophies, their medals, their awards, their promotions, their numbers. (Even we Christians get caught up in such things.) Not so the true and living God. “It’s the glory of God to hide something.”
Paul lays this out for us, today, as well. “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” This isn’t just what He does with bringing us to faith in Jesus. It’s what He does for us in Christ Jesus! Paul says just before our Epistle reading: “Christ [crucified is] the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than men, and God’s weakness is stronger than men.”
And so, since God “hides Himself,” since it is His “glory to hide something,” the Son of God “comes to the Jordan to be baptized by John.” At the Jordan the glory of God stands hidden in the waters, and yet He is revealed by those waters. The Glory of God is revealed there, too! It’s not only unexpected. It’s actually pretty shocking by worldly, human standards: glory covered in simplicity, strength in weakness, wisdom in foolishness, life in death. That’s how the Lord works out your salvation, for
IT’S GOD’S GLORY TO SAVE YOU BY HIDING HIS WISDOM AND STRENGTH UNDER THEIR OPPOSITE.
((I. The Son of God is Suffering Servant.))
Now, in the person and work of Jesus we see God hiding His wisdom and strength under their opposite. An infant that was born where animals are—He’s the Wisdom of God. An infant in a manger—He’s almighty. The man coming to the Jordan isn’t just any man. Isaiah 42 is fulfilled in Matthew 3: “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen, in whom My soul delights.” Not just Servant, but God Himself! Jesus, who went into the Jordan, is eternal God: “I do not give My glory to another,” the LORD says. And so, the Father, “the voice from heaven, said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus is the Servant-Son. See the glory of God: God the Son “takes on the form of a servant”! The Father praises His Son because of what His Son does, what He appointed His Son-Servant to do for you. “I will appoint you as covenant for the people, a light for the nations.” The Servant-Son is “covenant for the people.” He is covenant in His “fulfilling all righteousness,” in His “becoming for us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” And so we can put the words of Isaiah 42 this way: “I will appoint you as redemption for the people.” The Servant-Son is covenant, is redemption, is the sacrifice appointed for the sins of His people.
This means that Jesus, the Son of God, isn’t just any old Servant. He is the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53. He “bears the sins of His people.” “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” And His “Suffering Servant” work began here at the Jordan. He wasn’t just “appointed to be covenant for the people.” He was anointed, too!
Jesus was anointed with “sinner’s baptism.” This is why John didn’t want to baptized Him. At His baptism Jesus is first “numbered with the transgressors,” counted as a sinner. Here He unites Himself with sinners, counts Himself with the blind, with those who are in the dungeon, those in darkness. Yet He comes, as Suffering Servant, He comes to suffer and die for the sins of the world, to be “covenant for the people and light for the gentiles.” The sinless Son of God hidden among sinners, bearing sins, wearing them, as if they were His own—your sins!
But God hiding His wisdom and strength to save you isn’t just in the coming of the Son to be baptized, to die and rise, but that hiding is also in the baptism itself! It’s not just act of Baptism, but in the means of Baptism, too. It’s the water. “When Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water…” Looking at the water we again see that
IT’S GOD’S GLORY TO SAVE YOU BY HIDING HIS WISDOM AND STRENGTH UNDER THEIR OPPOSITE.
The Lord says, “I do not give My glory to another.” God the Father gives glory to God the Son. “I do not give My glory to another.” But God does gives His glory and Name to the waters. Talk about hiding wisdom and strength!
((II. God gives His glory and name to the waters.))
Today Paul says, “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 that’s what we’d expect from a God who likes to hide things. He hangs out with the unlikeliest of people: sinners. He wants to come to “bruised reeds.” He wants to be around “smoldering wicks.”
“God chose the foolish things, the weak things.” He chooses the bruised, the smoldering, the broken, the weak, the sinner, the dying, the blind, the enchained, the addicted, the burdened, the gloomy. He choses those who have no righteousness, no holiness, no sanctification, no redemption. They are His, and He is their’s. “Consider your calling!” Mine, too. If He choose the likes of me, He’s got you, too. (Such is the foolishness of the Gospel!)
But consider the means of your calling, too! Consider those waters. Consider what they do for you! What God the Father does for you in those waters that are combined with His Word: He saves you! That’s 1 Pet 3 and Titus 3, and that’s what Paul says today, too: “Because of Him you are in Christ Jesus.” You are baptized into Him. (That’s what Paul means by “in Christ.”) In and through Holy Baptism you are His and He is yours!
“I am the LORD, that’s My Name.” He gives you His Name in those waters. He gives you the glory of His cross. He gives you His Wisdom, His righteousness, His sanctification, His redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in those waters! The water is the means of how those Gifts come right to you. “It is the glory of God to hide something.” He hides and delivers His salvation, His cross, to you in those waters. How do you know it’s in those waters? Those waters don’t just wash your body, they wash your conscience, your heart, soul, mind, and strength. His Word tells you that.
The waters of Holy Baptism are His Gift. He hides His salvation in them so that our boasting would be not in our work, our believing, our correct answer about those waters, but on Him and Him alone. It has to be His work! His glory to save you by hiding His wisdom and strength in those waters. “Baptism is a life giving water,” as the Catechism teaches us. For “all that the mortal eye beholds Is water as we pour it Before the eye of faith unfolds the power of Jesus’ merit.
But we get hung up on the means. Our flesh does. We want to push the means aside. Focus on other things. But “it’s God’s glory to hide something.” But by getting hung up on the means we loose the gift. We forget faith and loose the benefits. No wonder Christian parents wait to baptize their babies instead of the first possible moment. Who cares what grandparents can be there? Will that water and that water alone save the infant or not? 1 Peter 3 has the answer.
But we do this with all the Lord’s Gifts. The Bible’s just another book like so many others gathering dust on our shelves. The Sermon is just human words easily skipped, rather than “God Himself making His appeal” through the pastor. We get hung up on bread and wine and our schedule of receiving rather than Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of sins that are freely given and freely received, no possible harm, to the one “who has faith in these words,” as the Catechism teaches.
“It’s the glory of God to hide something; it’s the glory of kings to seek something out.”
And so Jesus came. Baptized with sinner’s baptism. Appointed and anointed as “covenant,” sacrifice “for the people” for you.
So it is in the water, too. Looks like plain water, but “baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water combined with God’s Word.” And thus united “it is a life-giving water.”
Whether it’s the winning your salvation at Calvary or delivering your salvation in all of His Gifts, God does the same thing.