|Dear Savior, today we come not only to celebrate Your baptism, which marked the beginning of Your work in saving us; but also to celebrate our baptisms, by which You inscribed the mark of Your cross upon our hearts. And just as God the Father was well pleased with You on that holy day, so He is well pleased with us because we are baptized, too. May we glory in that fact and never forget to live its blessed results. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO CAME TO SEEK AND SAVE THE LOST—YOU AND ME!
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Let’s just suppose that today is your last day on earth and you know it. Tonight you will die. Tonight you will meet your Maker. The point of this game is to get you to ponder exactly what you will do with the rest of your day. Do you really want to meet God carrying that old grudge against your sister? Are there some regrets you have about people you’ve overlooked, neglected, and generally treated like dirt? Are there sins which you’ve never really repented of? Well, the point of this game is for you to formulate exactly what you would do to remedy those situations. The clock is ticking. Overlooking even one nasty event that you caused would be enough to derail your efforts to reach heaven. So, do you think you have enough time left to before the clock strikes 12 to cause God Almighty to welcome you into heaven? Indeed, is there ever time enough to make all our amends with everyone we’ve ever wronged?
With that in mind, today I want you to ponder this question:
IS GOD WELL PLEASED WITH ME?
Name me one mortal human being who is totally altruistic, loving, kind, and who always puts the wants, needs, and feelings of others first. Indeed, who of us isn’t self-absorbed? Who of us doesn’t wish to always be the center of attention? That’s right, no one. We don’t enter this world wired that way. We’re all sinners. We all have the virus software of original sin inscribed onto the hardware of our souls. And that’s why the words of the John the Baptist are so jarring. Here’s John, the Forerunner of Christ, the man chosen by God to prepare the Savior’s way, the one of whom Jesus Himself said: “Among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist.”—Yes, here is that man saying of Christ: “But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
John was a humble man. He truly believed that in the sight of God he wasn’t worthy to stoop down and handle Jesus’ dirty, stinky feet.—To pick up His garbage, as it were. We would say that if anyone deserved God’s grace it would be John. And yet, John begs to differ. So much so, that when Jesus comes to be baptized by him, John balks at the thought, and says: “I need to be baptized by You!” If you ever want to play the comparison game with others about whether or not God is well pleased with you, just think about John. And then hang your head in shame at your lostness born of your pride.
Is God well pleased with me? If you examine the hard-drive of your soul, the only honest answer is John’s answer: No. No. No. But, wait. The game isn’t ended just yet!
“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized, too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”
You and I didn’t create this game of life. We didn’t build the hardware or create the software. God did. And God did something quite amazing to shred the virus of original sin that Satan infected us with. He sent us a Savior. He sent us Christ, Who came to “seek and save the lost.” Christ is God’s ultimate overwriting program by which He trounces the pride, the grudges, the hurtful words, the evil thoughts that Satan has infected us with. In Christ, God wipes our hard drive clean and makes us clean, pure, and holy. The price to God for this cleansing was the death of Jesus. St. Paul sums it up quite well in the words of today’s epistle. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. 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 (declared righteous, holy, and clean) by his grace (His undeserved love), we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Is God well pleased with me? If you trust in Christ for your salvation, the answer is a resounding: yes! It is for that very reason we have come to celebrate Jesus’ baptism today. It is for that very reason that we rejoice over our baptism today. You and I don’t have to ever fear playing the “last day on earth” game. For Jesus has already played it for us—and won! Amen.