Monday, January 12, 2015

Sermon for the Baptism of Our Lord: "Baptism Basics"

+ Baptism of our Lord – January 11th, 2015 +

Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series B: Genesis 1:1-5; Romans 6:1-11; Mark 1:4-11

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today we’re blessed to have our preschool families with us. Preschool is a time for many things: play-time, snacks, learning, Kleenex boxes (lots of them), more snacks, more playtime, and more learning. One of the greatest ways we learn as children (no matter the age) is by learning the fundamentals.

The fundamentals of counting and language: 1-2-3s and A-B-Cs. The fundamentals of social behavior: how to stand in line and share toys in the sandbox. But most important of all, the fundamentals of the Christian faith: Our sin. Our Savior Jesus. Creation, Fall, Redemption. The 10 commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper.

Reminds me of a poster I’ve seen in several classrooms: “Everything I need to know I learned in Preschool.”

We learn the Christian faith in a similar way. Lutherans use the Small Catechism, a little booklet, less than 30 pages. But there’s no better summary of the Christian faith for teaching God’s children (no matter the age) the fundamental teachings of Scripture: the 10 commandments, Apostles’ Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. The Table of Duties. 

We could make our own poster: “Everything I need to know I learned in Catechism class.” That doesn’t mean you stop learning and growing in the Christian faith, or that everything outside of the Catechism is unimportant. No, there’s no graduation from the Catechism; you don’t receive a diploma when you are confirmed. Rather in the fundamental teachings of Scripture give we have a firm foundation upon which everything is built.

So today, as we celebrate Baptism: Jesus’ baptism and ours, we go back to school in way. As we celebrate Jesus’ Baptism, we also celebrate and rejoice in our Baptism.

What is Baptism?

Baptism is not just plain water, but it is water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word.

Which is that word of God?

Christ our Lord in the last chapter of Matthew: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

When we wash we use soap and water. But a minute later our hands are already dirty. It’s an imperfect, but good reflection of our sin. Like Lady MacBeth, no matter how many times we try to wash our sin away on our own, we cannot wash out that (damned) spot.

But when God washes us in Baptism with water and His Word you have a sure promise. God’s Word washes your sin away.

Peter proclaimed he same thing in Acts 2: Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:38-39

Baptism forgives your sin. Baptism gives you the Holy Spirit. Baptism is for all children of God, no matter the age. Scripture teaches us that all are conceived and born in sin and are under the power of the devil until Christ claims as his own.

We need a new birth, as Jesus teaches in John 3: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5

Jesus gives us the new birth we need through Holy Baptism. In Holy Baptism you are born from above, a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit. You are made God’s own child. Baptism is your second birthday. (and we should celebrate it that way too, with songs and candles and joy) where you’re born into heaven.

This is why Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. Though Jesus had no sin to wash away, he stands in the water for you. St. Matthew says it’s to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus chose to receive a sinner’s baptism to be baptized with sinners and for sinners. Although he is sinless, he is baptized to bear our sin and carry it all the way to the cross.

What benefits does Baptism give?

It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the word and promises of God declare.

Which are these words and promises of God?

Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: “whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

Holy Baptism gives you faith in Jesus. Holy Baptism saves us from the condemnation which our sins rightfully deserved. Holy Baptism, like faith, is a gift.

As parents, we want to give our children what they need: education, food, water, shelter, and the like. We provide for their needs as God calls us to. So, why not give them the best gift God has given us: Baptism? For if we so lovingly care for our children, how much more does our Heavenly Father care for each of you.

This is how Christ loves us. He puts himself into the waters of the Jordan so that He can put himself and his Word into the waters of your Baptism.

As I heard, oddly enough, in a recent Country song by Carrie Underwood:
Felt love pouring down from above. Got washed in the water, washed in the blood and now I'm changed. And now I'm stronger. There must've been something in the water

Indeed, there is something in the water: God’s Word in 1 Peter 3, which promises: Baptism…now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:21).

The Word of God which declares: you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11
The Word of God which declares that not only is there the something of God’s Word in the water, there’s someone

As Paul writes in Galatians 3: in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:26-27

How can water do such great things?

Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s word the water is plain water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.”

At every baptism, the Lord of all is in the water to give all of Himself to you. He who made the heavens and the earth remakes you into a new creature. He who uphold all things holds you up like a newborn naked baby to the excited chatter of angels. He who spoke healing to the lame, blind, deaf, and dead, heals and enlivens you in this holy word-washing. (Chad Bird)

And having been washed, you are Christ’s bride, the Church. Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-26

What does such baptizing with water indicate?

It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned an die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?

St. Paul writes in Romans, chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through Baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may have new life.”

In Holy Baptism God gives you new life through Jesus’ death and resurrection. God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus so that all of God’s promises are poured onto you in Baptism. Jesus exxhanges your filthy rags of sin for a white robe of His righteousness. The blood and water from Jesus’ pierced side is poured into Baptism to save you. And because Jesus crucified and risen is "the someone in the water and the something of his word is present, something else is in the water: you are.

The Spirit’s descends upon you. Heaven is opened to you. You are given hope in one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all (Eph. 4:5). And He declares his blessing to you: You are my beloved sons and daughters, with you I am well pleased.

Because when it comes to Jesus’ Baptism and yours: There truly is Something in the water for you, Jesus’ Word. And there’s Someone in the water for you: Jesus your Savior.

This is most certainly true.          

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.            

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