The Baptism of our Lord _Epiphany 2b_ by jcjmhkitraxxz


									The Baptism of our Lord (Epiphany 1b)                                   Daniel H. Quiram
Mark 1:9-11                                                             January 11, 2009

                              “You Are My Beloved”
Mark 1:9-11 (ESV)
  In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in
the Jordan. [10] And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the
heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. [11] And a voice
came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

   The Gospel according to St. Mark begins with the baptism of Jesus. For Mark, the
good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begins in the water of the Jordan River.
Jesus’ baptism is His epiphany to Israel, His coming out of the darkness into the spot
light, His manifestation to the world with the voice of the Father and the descent of the
Holy Spirit. It is, in a very real sense, the beginning of the Gospel, the good news, that
salvation, forgiveness, life, and peace have come to us in God’s Son.
   Before His baptism, Jesus was largely unknown. He lived in obscurity in the north
country, Nazareth of Galilee. There He was known simply as the “carpenter’s son.” A
handful of shepherds had knelt before Him at His humble birth in Bethlehem. Simeon
and Anna had adored Him as an infant in the temple at His presentation. Magi from
eastern lands had graced Him with their kingly gifts as a young child. The temple
teachers had been utterly amazed by His wisdom at the age of twelve. Then, for the next
eighteen years, there is nothing to be known, nothing out of the ordinary with Jesus,
nothing to distinguish Him from any other. He preached no sermon. He worked no
miracle. He grew into manhood like any other boy growing up in Nazareth.
   Then one day Jesus came out of the darkness of obscurity to the light. He came to the
banks of the Jordan river, in order to be baptized by John. Jesus left Nazareth. Being a
young man of 30 or so, He left behind whatever kinfolk He had. He said goodbye to
friends in that little town with whom He had grown up, and the beautiful places that were
familiar to Him. It had been home for Him. But now He set His face southward, and
walked the 60 or more miles to the Judean region and the southern course of the Jordan
River. There He met His distant cousin, John the Baptist, and accepted the baptism of

   Have you ever left home, in the sense of journeying off from family and familiar
places? Have you ever left home to begin a new task or assignment that loomed before
you in a new and unfamiliar place? That almost becomes a rhetorical question to ask a
congregation which consists of a number of college graduates and former executives
from the Mid-West. But it does reveal some things with which we can identify. Most of
us have experienced both the anticipation and uneasiness that goes with setting out on
such a journey. We may not know any one at the other end of that journey but we do
know something about the task.
   On the flip side of that equation a number of our families have experienced a
daughter or son leaving the area after their preparation days at home and at the local
schools were completed. Perhaps you can identify with the moment of seeing a car pull
out of the driveway, a plane go off into the far horizon, with your son or daughter aboard.
   Knowing these experiences and the feelings that accompany them, we also can
appreciate the presence of an affirming word from one who counts when we get to where
we are going to begin our new task. You can probably imagine that Jesus too felt the
need and welcomed the epiphany from His Father as the waters of the Jordan covered
Him and He walked dripping wet up upon the bank of that river. It was an affirmation
that propelled Him upon His task. It was an affirmation His Father gave with love and
deep compassion.
   This is an epiphany, a revelation from God concerning who Jesus is. The witness is
clear. “You are by beloved Son: with you I am will pleased.” (Mark 1:11). The
Father is using two unique phrases from the Old Testament (one- - designating His Son to
be a representative of all Israel, to be a King of Israel – for that is what a king was called
in OT times: “Son of God”; and two – His task would be one of a suffering servant – for
that is what the poem of the second phrase comes from) that affirmed that Jesus was to be
a Suffering Servant King. His task as King was to serve people in order to bring
them back to a right relationship with God.
   The baptized Jesus, affirmed by His Father for the awesome task that lay before him,
is our brother. He comes all the way to our human side in His baptism. This epiphany
reveals His full and total involvement with us. He takes His place with us, not as a
spectator of our humanity but as our brother. The Lord of all became the Servant of all.

The Sinless One stood with sinners in the water of the Jordan. The water of the Jordan
teemed with sin the day Jesus was baptized. Our sin, the collective sin of the world. It
was filled with every imaginable evil: the worst of our immorality, drunkenness, deceit,
pride, gossip, slander, greed - our sinful nature can produce. The Pharisees and religious
leaders refused to step into such water. They didn’t want to be seen in the same water
with prostitutes and sinners. They had no felt need for repentance and washing.
   But Jesus was not ashamed to step into a sinner’s bath water. He stood in the water
with the prostitute and the tax collector, with the Gentile and the outcast. He stood
shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with sinners. He was steeped in our sin. He was made
sin for us who knew no sin, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Cor. 5:21)
   Luther called it a “happy exchange,” a sweet swap. That’s what the baptism of Jesus
is about. Jesus took up our sin, our guilt, our punishment, our death. And we receive
from Him His righteousness, His forgiveness, His glory, His life. He gets treated like a
sinner, so that we would be declared saints.
   Many of us began our Christian journey with our baptism. At His baptism Jesus
received the confirmation that He was God’s beloved Son. At our baptisms we are
adopted by God and become children of God. Jesus received renewed confidence in His
sonship throughout His ministry at such times as the transfiguration. We too are renewed
throughout our lives by experiences rooted in our baptism.
   Our baptism was our second birth, when we were born again into the family of God.
Many of us have been raised as Christians from our baptism on. Instead of a single
dramatic event in which our life was turned around, our whole history has been a gradual
growth in faith.
   It is also in our baptism that we receive our identity as children of God. In the words
of one baptismal service, “We are born children of a fallen humanity; in the waters of
Baptism we are reborn children of God and inheritors of eternal life. By water and
the Holy Spirit we are made members of the church which is the body of Christ.”
   But our baptism is not a single, completed event. It is renewed daily. Jesus’
baptismal experience was renewed in His experience of transfiguration, when God again

declared Him to be the divine Son. Our baptism should be renewed, not occasionally, but
day by day as Luther put it.
    Our baptism is renewed daily as we live our lives as Christian disciples. In His Small
Catechism, Luther urged Christians to renew their baptismal vows daily. The rebirth that
occurred originally in our baptism occurs again and again in the course of our lives. As
we gather to worship we are reminded that we begin our worship of God in the name of
the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
    During the confession and forgiveness at the beginning of the liturgy, the pastor
stands at the front and reminds us of our baptism. There we were named in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
    At baptism God’s Holy Spirit is given to us. God’s power is within us. At baptism
God has given us our identity; God declares us to be sons and daughters of our Creator.
But then God gives us a power to become who God has said we are. God asks us then to
avail ourselves of the power of that presence, to seek it, and to utilize it.
    We have been baptized. We have been given our identity. We have been given the
power of the Spirit of God.
    In His ministry Jesus clung to God’s promise given to Him in the waters of the
Jordan. Opposition to Him and His message grew. His family turned against Him,
thinking He had lost His senses. He was accused of being Satan’s ally. Finally He had to
face the reality of His execution as a common criminal. When He was arrested by the
authorities and let to His trial, even His closest followers fled and denied that they knew
Him. But Jesus clung to God’s promise: He was God’s beloved Son. And with the
power of that promise Jesus withstood the suffering, the abandonment, and even the
death of the cross. And the One who affirmed Him as His beloved Son raised Him from
the dead and gave Him a name that is above every name.
    Like Jesus we cling to that promise, holding tightly to the words that accompanied the
water. “You are My beloved; you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked
with the cross of Christ forever.” That promise is our hope. That promise is the only
power we have. That promise is the force that brings us each day from death to life.

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism – page 325 in Lutheran Service Book (LSB).


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