Saturday, January 7, 2017

Epiphany 1 - The Baptism of our Lord

(The First Sunday after the Epiphany)
8 January 2017
Isaiah 42:1–9
Romans 6:1–11
Matthew 3:13–17
The Holy Triune God Is Manifested and Reveals Himself to Us in Holy Baptism

Hymn of the Day: LSB #466 To Jordan Came the Christ our Lord

Collect for the Day: Father in heaven, at the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River You pro claimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized in His name faithful in their calling as Your children and inheritors with Him of everlasting life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Baptism of our Lord is an “epiphany” of the one true God in the flesh and blood of Jesus. He is the chosen servant of the Lord, anointed with the Spirit for the rescue of God’s people and to “bring forth justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1). Thus, He makes all things new, and He is given “as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). In the waters of the Jordan, He takes His place with sinners and takes all the sins of the world upon Himself. He undergoes the Baptism of repentance in order to “fulfill all righteousness” for us (Matthew 3:15). He submits Himself to the curse of sin and death in order to redeem us. We are baptized with a Baptism like His, thereby dying and rising with Him, so that “we will also live with him” (Romans 6:8). Indeed, all of us who are baptized into Christ Jesus are anointed with His Spirit and named by His Father as beloved and well-pleasing sons and daughters.

The few weeks since Christmas are short compared to the approximately thirty years between Jesus’ birth and His baptism by John.  Yet many in our day have already forgotten why His birth was so important. Others wait with eager or curious expectation. To see what He mission in life will be. The baptism of Jesus “begins” His public ministry.

In just twelve days, our next president will deliver his inaugural address. He will outline for us his vision for our country. He will tell us what we must expect in the months and years to come.  In today’s Gospel Matthew gives us Jesus’ credentials and His anticipated program for the coming years. Now that Christmas is past, and the Messiah is here, what is His mission all about? The baptism of Jesus begins His public ministry.  At His “inauguration”, Jesus is baptized and thus begins His walk - from Galilee to Golgotha.  Yes, He is the one send by the Father. He is the Father’s Son – sent to suffer.  Jesus has come. To fulfill all righteousness. This means, He will avoid all detours. Nothing will stop Him until He arrives at the cross. Calvary is the goal. Nothing will deter Him.  – So, who and what is this Christ?

1. The Messiah identifies with the past.
2. The Messiah identifies with the present (at His time)
3. The Messiah’s mission points to the future.

1.       The Messiah identifies with the past.
A.      He identifies with all people. From Adam to John. Who “need” to be baptized for forgiveness.
B.      He claims a heritage with God’s covenant people of Israel. Indeed, He is Israel (and all God’s people) “reduced to one.”
C.      Thus, His mission involves forgiveness. Not for Himself. But, for the sin of all others. He is baptized for you. He identified Himself with the faults and failures, the pains and problems, of all the broken people who had flocked to the Jordan River. By wading into the waters with them, He takes His place beside them. He identifies with sinners. To be the cure for sin.

2.       The Messiah identifies with the present (at His time).
A.      In the baby of Bethlehem God has sent “His Son” (see Psalm 2:7) “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
B.      This Messiah is also the “chosen servant” foretold by Isaiah, with whom God is “well pleased,” that is, whom God has accepted by grace to be His sacrifice for sin. There can be no other.
C.      Jesus is baptized “to fulfill all righteousness,”  “for now.” The fulfillment of God’s plan has begun. But Jesus’ mission moves from the Jordan to Jerusalem. It does not end here. It is only the beginning. It will end at the cross. Where He will suffer and die for the sin of the people.  

3.       The Messiah’s mission points to the future.
A.      He has come primarily to suffer and die so that by repentance and forgiveness through His righteousness, the kingdom of God may come.
B.      In your Christian Baptism, you participate in the death of Christ. (Romans 6) You identify with the “New Israel.” Saved by baptismal grace.
C.       The Epiphany season stands between our celebration of Christ’s birth and His Passion. We remember. He came to manifest God’s good favor (grace) by humbly offering Himself for the sins of the world.

Words –665
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability –73.9 %
Reading level –5.4
Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use

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