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Rev.

Charles Lehmann + Baptism of Our Lord + Matthew 3:13-17

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.


When Jesus, the Savior of the world is baptized, the
heavens are rended wide. A voice comes down from heaven. The
Holy Spirit descends as a dove. And the words... the words are
great! “This is my beloved Son; with him I am well pleased.”
Now, that's something. But hey... It's Jesus. I've never seen
anything like that happen in a normal baptism. Just think of last
week. The heavens didn't rip open. There were no doves.
Kaden's baptism was beautiful, but not that exciting. It was
normal. It was like a hundred other baptisms you have seen
before.
A man in a funny white dress holds a baby over a bowl of
water and splashes it on the kid's forehead three times. He
mumbles some words. Half the time you can't even hear them.
Then the baby cries while he's being handed back to his
parents. A lot of the time he was sound asleep until the cold water
got on his forehead and in his eyes.
Baptism is a very human thing. It's not accompanied by the
sky being torn in twain and the Holy Spirit swooping down,
feathers and all. That's Bible stuff. You live in the real world.
We often look at a baptism and you think: Nice ceremony.
Good symbol of the child entering the church. A nice time to take
pictures with the family and have a barbeque on a Sunday
afternoon. But it's really hard to believe that anything special or
miraculous is happening there.
The baby does not reverently go back to the pew with
hands folded. He does not silently speak the Lord's Prayer after
the baptismal water is wiped from his forehead. He does not
confess with a clear and loud voice the words of the Nicene Creed.
He can't talk. He can't even mimic his parents' actions that well
yet.
He doesn't behave any differently either. He still gets mom
and dad up in the middle of the night. He still demands enormous
amounts of attention. He still dirties his diaper. And, he gets
worse. He becomes actively willful and disobedient. He screams.
He yells. He says, “You're not the boss of me.” He sins. There's
really very little reason to think the brat has faith at all.
Our text today is different from all we know from the
baptisms we've seen here at Peace With Christ. With Jesus it's not
hard to know that something important is happening. You've got
all the cool stuff with Jesus, but when you, your kids, your
brother, your sister... when they were baptized, it was boring. Your
eyes couldn't see what was really going on.
But the eyes of the skeptic are the eyes of unbelief. One
reason we are tempted to deny the reality of the baptism because
we can't immediately see what it is. Faith is not seen, but heard.
Consider the creed that you confess each Sunday.
You confess one baptism for the remission of sins. You
confess this in the article about the Holy Spirit. But how is the
Spirit involved in your baptism? The answer is that the one
baptism of the creed is the one baptism of today's text. You are
baptized into Christ. It is His baptism that you receive. It is
because the Spirit descended on Him in His baptism that Peter
later preaches that in baptism you receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit.
You receive the Lord's baptism. Not only has Jesus
sanctified all waters by His baptism, but He has done it for you.
Consider what John the Baptizer says of Jesus just before
baptizing Him. “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins
of the world.”
In your baptism, your sins are washed away. In Christ's, He
takes them up. He bears them, carries them to the cross and dies
there because of them. Yet, even so, Christ hears the Father's
words, “This is my beloved Son; with him I am well pleased.”
God's beloved Son bears the sin of the world and receives
the wrath it deserves. God's anger is turned aside from you and
focused on the Son. You are forgiven. The sin that Christ has
borne in His baptism is gone forever. So now consider your
baptism. When you entered the baptismal waters you received the
baptism that Christ Himself received.
The Father now speaks the words to you that He originally
spoke to Jesus. “You are my beloved Son in whom I am well
pleased.” You. You are baptized into Christ, and as many of you as
are baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
The Father does not see you, the doubter of baptism, you,
the despiser of His gifts. No. You are baptized. He sees you, His
beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. He sees Christ. All His
deeds are seen in you. All His righteousness is yours by your
baptism into His death. All His life is yours by your baptism into
His resurrection.
It is still nonsense to your eyes, and in this life it always
will be. Your eyes see a baby getting wet. The water doesn't seem
any different than what a cow drinks or from what you use when
you take a bath. But your ears know differently. Your ears, not
your eyes, are the organ of faith.
It is a true baptism. It is water filled with God's Word. The
Lord's Word is Spirit and life, and washed in this Spirit water, you
are begotten of the Father. That is why He speaks to you.
Your ears hear the Father's words and believe them, and
that is why what your Sunday school teacher may have taught you
to say is good. “I am a child of God by my baptism.”
You are the Father's child, His beloved son. And He will
keep every promise He has made to you in Christ through your
baptism.
Satan does not want you to believe it, but you may loudly
sing a hymn against him.
“Satan hear this proclamation. I am baptized into Christ.
Drop your ugly accusation. I am not so soon enticed. Now that to
the font I've traveled, all your might has come unraveled. I am
baptized into Christ. I'm a child of Paradise.”
Luther says in His Large Catechism that the Lord gives so
many and so great gifts in baptism that we could spend our entire
lives praising God for them and never run out of things to say.
In the Lord's baptism, He has taken up your sin, and He
carries it in His own body. He will carry it into the wilderness and
be tempted by the devil. Satan will try to persuade the Lord to
cast your sin aside, to give it back to you. Satan will try to turn
Jesus away from the way of the cross.
Satan wants your sins to drag you down to hell. He doesn't
want God to deal with them. He doesn't want Jesus to forgive
them. But Jesus has said that it is fitting for Him to fulfill all
righteousness, and so he has fulfilled it. He has placed Himself
under the Law and has redeemed those who are under the Law.
Not only has He suffered, died, and felt the full brunt of God's
wrath in your place, but He has fulfilled every precept of God's
Law.
In your baptism, you are clothed with Christ. His every
keeping of the Lord's commands is credited to you. Every leper
he cleansed, every blind man whose sight is restored. Every
grieving mother or sister that He comforted. He did this all for
you.
In the Lord's Baptism, He sets aside what is by nature His.
He ignores what is due Him by the fact that He is the eternal Son
of God. He makes Himself nothing, taking on the very form of a
slave. He takes your sin. He takes your death. He destroys them
on a cross on a mountain called Golgotha.
Your are baptized into His death. All of the benefits that
He won for you on the cross are yours in your baptism. You are
baptized into the Lord's resurrection. The life he lives is yours,
now and forevermore. Your eternal salvation doesn't depend on
you now and it never will. It's a done deal.
You are the Father's beloved Son. In you he is well
pleased.
In the Name of the + Father and of the + Son and of the
Holy Spirit. Amen.