Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Baptism of Jesus

Baptism of Our Lord
Jan 12, 2020
Fr Phil Eberhart

Mt 3


Turn in your bulletin to the passage in the Gospel that we just heard read. A tiny few verses that starts with a protest from John, the Baptist.

The question i want to consider this morning is simply WHY? It's the question that John himself asked of Jesus! He protested at first, questioning the necessity of this act by the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" I think it's a good thing for all of us to question it and to consider Christ's response. And ours.

Let's pray...

Lord Jesus Christ. You are "the Word made flesh. " God incarnate, yet you came in the humility of a son who "grew in both stature and in favor, with God and with man." You intentionally identified with us in our need as you initiated your ministry among us on earth. Send your Spirit to open our eyes and ears, Lord. Help us to see all you want for us in the sacrament of Baptism, as we follow you step by step. Growing in our spiritual stature to a useful maturity and walking daily in your footsteps in this world. In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

First of all I want to refresh our memory of the definition we have of what this sacrament is and what it means.

In seminary we had a whole semester, 3 or 4 hour class on this. You're getting a rock skipped on the surface in about 15 min this morning. Fasten your seat belt. Sacramental Theology .05!

First our definition from the baptismal catechism or teaching...
A Sacrament is "AN OUTWARD AND VISIBLE SIGN OF AN INWARD AND SPIRITUAL GRACE!"

The two Sacraments of our Lord are Baptism and Holy Communion. Both have an outward and visible part ...
water... wine... bread. Common things that are now accompanied by God's Amazing Grace... they are carriers, doorways, touch points between the visible and the invisible... between the material created world and the eternal, uncreated world. "The means of Grace and the Hope of Glory..." from our Great Thanksgiving prayer.

A sacrament always has two parts...
The outer, visible, symbolic matter and the inner, invisible Grace of God - that which is symbol and that which is "real."
I like to call sacraments "matters of the heart."

So baptism... specifically Jesus's baptism...

In the creed which we will say momentarily we affirm our belief that Jesus was ... "the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father."

Of one being with the Father!

So why did Jesus, who we believe these things about, need to be baptized by John who was "preparing the way in the wilderness" with a message and a baptism of REPENTANCE. Jesus had nothing to repent of. He was the sinless, spotless, sacrificial Lamb of God. Why?

Let's look at Jesus words here... his answer to John's query... John's protest.
His answer to John was four words...
TO FULFILL
ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS.

1st ... look at WHERE we are. We are at an intersection. The scriptures tell us that Jesus came in "THE FULNESS OF TIME. " May I suggest to you that this moment is the Intersection between Time and Eternity. This point in history is "The Fullness of Time." That point where the Eternal action of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the whole of Salvation History, meets the material created world with intention and ...

2nd. Identification!

Here is the WHAT in this moment. Jesus, at the initiation of his earthly three-year active ministry is being obedient to the purpose of God in Christ to fully identify with Sinful Humanity, here in our need for Repentance! Jesus himself must lead us back through from this earthly, physical and sinful universe to our rightful place with the myriads before the throne of God, enthralled in wonder, love and praise!

To Fulfill All Righteousness...

Paul, in one of the churches earliest hymns, tells of the emptying... the Kenosis... in Philippians 2:8. "Who being in the form of God, emptied himself..."

That process of kenosis actually begins in earnest here at the Jordan. Thus John's question and Jesus's answer. An interesting paradox were seeing. The self-emptying of Jesus was to FILL FULL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS!

All Righteousness...

The word appears in the NT over 90 times. I just want to refer to two of them...

Rom 5:21
...as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans is Paul's Gospel! He builds the case that 'God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself." That we cannot get to God on the basis of our righteous deeds, but must come through the Righteous One, Jesus his Son.

It's here that Jesus's baptism takes on the fulness of All Righteousness. The Great Exchange begins here...

2 Cor 5:21
"He who knew no sin, became sin for us so that, in Him, we might become the righteousness of God! "

Jesus identifies with us fully, even submitting to baptism as a sign of his Obedient Self Emptying, to fully "become sin for us" that we might fully, in him, become the Righteousness of God.

And we do that by following Him into the waters! The mystery of your baptism is this Great Exchange! Because of Jesus' self-sacrifice beginning here at the Jordan and ending at Calvary and in his resurrection from the dead, we have a pathway to become like him! It is our own baptism that is for us, just like Jesus, an entry point... a doorway... a portal into Him... into union with Christ Jesus, where and only where is found the fullfillment of All Righteousness. In Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let me pray again...


Lord Jesus Christ. You are "the Word made flesh. " God incarnate, yet you came in the humility of a son who "grew in both stature and in favor, with God and with man." You intentionally identified with us in our need as you initiated your ministry among us on earth. Send your Spirit to open our eyes and ears, Lord. Help us to see all you want for us in the sacrament of Baptism, as we follow you step by step. Growing in our spiritual stature to a useful maturity and walking daily in your footsteps in this world. In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.