Friday, January 10, 2014

Epiphany 1

January 12, 2014
Epiphany 1
The Baptism of our Lord
Matthew 3:13-17
What the What?

Almighty and eternal God, when the Spirit descended upon Jesus at His baptism in the Jordan, You proclaimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized into Christ faithful in their calling to be Your children and inheritors with Him of everlasting life.

Two steps forward… one-step back. One-step forward… two steps back!   Sometimes that's how life works.

The internet goes down because of the snow. Two steps forward, one-step back. The furnace goes out because of the cold. One-step forward…two steps back! The power goes out because of the wind!  No steps forward…three steps back! The water goes out because of a main break in town!

What the What! Enough already! Four steps back!

Two steps forward… one-step back. One-step forward… two steps back!   Three steps down...two steps up!

Jesus took three steps down.
  • He enters time and space.
  • He is baptized. 
  • He suffers death by crucifixion.

These downward steps happen deliberately. In preparation for two big steps up. His resurrection and ascension.

Jesus makes it a habit of showing up where you wouldn't expect Him. Where do the shepherds find Him?  He’s housed in a stable. Resting in a manger. Not in a palace. Not in a mansion. The Magi find Him in Bethlehem. A tiny little town time forgot.  Not in David's Royal city of Jerusalem.

Now at the banks of the Jordan we find Jesus ready for baptism. He desires to be baptized by John who was preaching a message of repentance.

He is baptized into a baptism of repentance. John baptizes him in a baptism for sinners? What the What!  He is fulfilling all righteousness.

Lord, what are you doing here?” By going to the water of the Jordan, Jesus is committing Himself to the way of the cross. He identifies with sinners.  He stands with them. He stands for them. This baptism will take Him there to a place for executing criminals.

What the What! That is certainly not a place where Jesus ought to belong. Or is it?  He is fulfilling all righteousness. By being baptized with sinners, Jesus sets His face toward Jerusalem. His focus is on Calvary. There is no turning back.

Jesus, whose very name means, “The Lord saves”- is baptized; to fulfill all righteousness -“for He will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21

The entire salvation history of Israel is fulfilled in Jesus. He is Israel reduced to one. Everything the Lord God was doing with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with Moses and Joshua, with David--all of God’s kind dealings with and for and through Israel--now come to fruition with the coming of the Christ.

The Father loves His Son and He loves what the Son is doing.

In Jesus' baptism, heaven opens.  The Father speaks. In your baptism, heaven opens, and the Father speaks. Heaven is opened and is now accessible to sinners. As your sins were washed away, you receive the righteousness Jesus fulfilled.

In Jesus' Baptism, the Holy Spirit descends.  In your baptism, you received the gift of His Holy Spirit, to enlighten and sanctify you.

Two steps forward one-step back. One-step forward two steps back!  Three steps down...two steps up.  

When you experience tough times in your life, remember Jesus had to take three steps down before He could take two steps up.

• He had to be born in a stable intended for sheep.
• He had to be baptized in a baptism intended for sinners.
• He had to die on a cross intended for criminals.

He did those things to help you. As a result: "God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians. 2:9-11).

Sometimes it works that way for us too. Sometimes the Father lets life humble us –– but we can be sure that He has not abandoned us. He might let us fall. But we live in faith. He will never let us fail. His baptism proves it! You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world -1 John 4:4 

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