Let us pray: Dear Lord Christ, today cause us to remember our baptism in which we were united with You and made members of Your eternal family. Cause us to rejoice over our new-found freedom from sin and Satan. But above all, cause us to remember and to count the cost of this freedom which You paid for in full with Your life. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR GLORIOUS SAVIOR!
TEXT: Luke 3: 15-17,21,22
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
With the advent of the new year, it seems everyone is issuing predictions for the future. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could see into the future and knew, really knew, events and outcomes before they happened? Think of all the money you could make by placing sure-fire bets on the market? Think of the grief you could avoid if you knew something bad was about to happen to you and if you simply stayed in bed that morning you could avoid it? Almost since time began people have tried to predict the future. In former ages people used soothsayers, oracles, and others to discern events before the fact and plot their strategies accordingly. Of course, more often than not, they were sorely disappointed.
Today is the baptism of Christ Sunday. Today we recall His baptism, which inaugurated His public ministry; and also our baptism into His kingdom of grace. What a glorious day our baptism was and still is! To be reborn by God’s Son and made an heir of eternal life is miraculous! When we celebrate a baptism here at church, it is always a very happy day for that reason. But, what about Christ’s baptism? Did He experience that same kind of joy, those same emotions? Well, let’s find out.
John the Baptist has been engaged in his ministry of preparing the way of the Lord for about 3 months. Although they didn’t have Twitter and social media, the word still spread like wild-fire about John. He was a fiery preacher, a celebrity. So, “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.”
The Messiah, the long-awaited Savior from sin and heartache was the real focus on those Jewish folks. They had been anticipating His coming for 1700 years since the time of Abraham. And even before that, since Adam and Eve, God’s people had passed down God’s promises to them about the Messiah. The pressure had built up to a boiling point—they wanted to know if NOW was the time! Humble John answered them this way: “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Unlike most humans, John didn’t want the spot-light for himself. He was humble in spirit as we see in his answer. He didn’t care about his 3 months of fame. No, he cared about Christ! And here he reminds all that Christ was coming very soon and His advent on the scene would be far different than most expected. The Messiah would be strong and powerful. He would examine each person’s heart for evidence of repentant faith. John says our hearts would be akin to wheat awaiting separation from the chaff. Once the wheat was smacked around and opened up with the flail, it would fall to the ground of the threshing floor. The heavier wheat would remain on the bottom while the lighter chaff would be caught by the wind and blown aside. And then the wheat would be gathered up for use while the worthless chaff would be gathered up and burned. The wheat is the Christian’s heart, while the chaff is the unbeliever’s heart. The fire is hell. Too be sure, for most this was an unsettling message. It wasn’t a “feel good” prescription for their future.
But, still they came to be baptized. They longed for salvation. “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.'”
God the Father and God the Holy Ghost were both well pleased that Christ now willingly assumed the mantle of His ministry. They were well pleased that Christ now publicly agreed to suffer and die in our place to save fallen humankind. This was their eternal plan and now it was about to reach its fulfillment. Like Christ, they knew the future. They knew everything that awaited Jesus. They knew how He would be rejected by His hometown, shunned by the powers-that-be, mocked by worldly celebrities, called a demon by others, have His earthly family question His sanity, be captured by soldiers, beaten, tried in a kangaroo court, and nailed to a cross.—All this Christ was now agreeing to do to save our souls. Jesus also knew all this in advance. And yet, He willingly agreed to it out of pure love for lost, forlorn sinners like us. When you think of Christ’s baptism that way, it is amazing!
But, that is the nature of depth of the Triune God’s love for us! None of us would ever agree to such a thing knowing exactly what the future held. But, Jesus did! If you’ve ever needed a more clear definition of grace, well, the baptism of Christ says it all and more, doesn’t it?
What was Jesus’ future? What was He thinking about at that moment in time when He bowed His head and water flowed over it in baptism? I’ll tell you what: JESUS’ FUTURE WAS AND IS: YOU! That’s right, you. The life you live, the things you say—everything about you is and was His future. He agreed to do this, to be baptized, to save you!
So, the next time Satan comes calling and temptation comes knocking at your door, remember that. And then also remember that as His baptized child you have the power to send Satan packing and to say: NO WAY to temptation. Yes, you really are Christ’s future! And His future is right now. Amen