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The Baptism of our Lord, Matthew 3:13-17

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

The text before us is a text is a most amazing text. Jesus, “the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made,” this same Jesus came to John the Baptist for the purpose of being baptized by him in the Jordan river (Nicene Creed).

This is a most strange, yet wonderful, doing of our Lord.

It is most strange because John’s baptism was a “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3).

John the Baptist preached the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:1).

Those who came to John to be baptized by him were repentant, that is, they were sorry for their sins.

They came confessing their sins, for they were sinners.

John’s preaching of repentance was a call to turn from unbelief to belief in the Lord and His word and promises.

This is what is strange about Jesus coming to John the Baptist to be baptized by him—Jesus had nothing to repent of.

Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  He had no need for forgiveness, for remission of sins, or for pardon.  Jesus had no sins to confess that were His own.  He was complete, whole, and without blemish.

It was not Jesus who needed forgiveness.  It was John himself and all who came to him who needed redemption, everyone else but Jesus.

For this reason, we might be able to understand John’s hesitation to baptize Jesus and why he said what he did when he said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

John knew and understood that Jesus was upright.  He recognized that Jesus was mightier, the greater, the Righteous (Matthew 3:11; John 3:30).

John understood that his baptizing was a baptism of repentance, a baptism for sinners.  Jesus was not a sinner.

Jesus needed no baptism.

This was the dilemma for John.

Jesus coming to him to be baptized by him did not make sense.

This is that strange thing concerning the text—Jesus, a non-sinner, comes to John to be baptized by him who baptizes sinners.

Fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness

As strange and incredible as Jesus coming to John to be baptized by him is, his coming to John to be baptized by him is also the wonderful doing of our Lord.

Jesus came to John to be baptized by him, not because He, that is, Jesus, had any sin of His person or because of anything that He had done wrong, did do wrong, or would do wrong.

 Jesus remained as sinless before His baptism as after His baptism.

Rather, Jesus came to John to be baptized by him because by doing so, He identified Himself with sinners and as a sinner, really, not only as “a” sinner, but “the” sinner.

By undergoing a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, Jesus identified Himself as THE ONE on whom all sin would rest—THE ONE on whom God’s judgment would rest—THE ONE who would stand in the place of a sinful people and be THE substitute for sinners, both in suffering their judgment for their sin and for fulfilling all righteousness by keeping God’s Law.

Jesus would be the one, who with John, would fulfill all righteousness: John, by baptizing Jesus; and Jesus, by being baptized by John as a sinner, though He knew no sin, even as St. Paul testifies, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

On the cross of Calvary, Jesus paid for your sins and mine.

By His being baptized, Jesus identified Himself as your substitute, even your righteousness, before God.

Jesus did not need to be baptized for Himself.

He had no sin for which to give answer.

However, for you was He baptized, that you not rest on your own doings for salvation, but on Him—and on Him alone—that you rest your hope and confidence in Christ and none other.

God the Father also testifies to this, for the voice from heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

If Jesus’ baptism had not pleased the Father, the Father would not have said what He had said.

Nor would the Spirit have descended and rested upon Jesus.

The events of that day give evidence to God’s approval of His Son, and the approval of His work—a sin bearer and Savior for all of mankind.

John permitted Jesus to be baptized by him

John humbly consented to baptizing Jesus.

He did not refuse Jesus his request.

John did not resist Jesus’ Word because he didn’t understand it.

He simply let the Word of the Lord take the lead.

He permitted to be what the Lord had spoken.

Even though John was less than Jesus and Jesus the greater, John abided by the Word of the Lord, and, filling his office, he did according to the Word that the Lord gave Him to do.

This is no small thing.

It is the work of God that the sinner give in to God’s Word, believe it, and do it.

This is not the work of sinful man, but the grace of God to believe, even should one not know the reason for doing so—except that God say it.

Initially, John tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized.  But at the Lord’s Word, he let it be.

This is what the Lord’s disciples do.

They let God’s Word be as it is—God’s Word—without equivocation, without misrepresentation, without falsification, and without reinterpretation.

They permit God’s Word to speak as it is, and on that alone do they rest their case, believe, and do.

The heaven’s opened—Jesus, the Spirit (as a dove), the Father (voice)—The Holy Trinity—The words of the Father–This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased

And then what do we see?

John permits Jesus to be baptized.

Jesus, so humbly, is baptized by the baptizer.  And the heavens are opened.  The Holy Spirit descends as a dove and rests upon Jesus.  There is a voice from the opened heaven.  And the voice of the Heavenly Father says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

What else can this mean but that Jesus is the one with whom the Father is well pleased?

What else can this mean but that Jesus, the one who “numbered” Himself “with the transgressors and…bore the sin of many,” who later “poured out His soul unto death, even the death of the cross” (Isaiah 53:12; Philippians 2:8) is your Savior, Redeemer, and deliverer from sin, death, and hell?

What else can these words of the Father about His Son mean than that in Jesus, you too, are well pleasing to the Father?

Christ, serving as your substitute, as the sinner of all sinners, means that all your sin is off you and on Him.

If your sin be on Him, your sin is not on you.

Therefore, that sin, your sin, is no more your judgement, for in Christ, that judgment is no more.

“He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:26-28), even your sins.

“He redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

All this means that the Father’s words about His Son now also apply to you—because of Jesus.

Because the Father is pleased with His beloved Son, and that Son fulfilled all righteousness and put to death your sins on the cross that they be no more, the Father is now pleased with you on account of Jesus.

No more trying to impress God or earn His favor!

Only believe Jesus, your Advocate (1 John 2:1) and Mediator (1 Timothy 2:4), and you have a gracious God.

Like John, permit this to be so.

Suffer the words of Jesus and the words of the Father.

Remember your Baptism, for as Paul says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4, epistle).

Since both Jesus and the Father looked highly upon the baptism of Jesus, so also are you to look upon Christ’s baptism for you, and even your own baptism, for you were baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

God’s Name is no Name to minimize—it is the only Name to regard as High and mighty.

That Name is on you through water and Word.

Should you ever wonder God’s disposition towards you, should you ever doubt God’s favor upon you, should you ever be uncertain that your sins are forgiven, or should you ever find yourself questioning whether your sin is too great for God to forgive, look to Christ.

Hold fast to Christ’s Word, “You are forgiven.”

Be bold to say, “God’s own child I gladly say it, I am baptized into Christ,” for so you are.

Through Baptism, God calls you His own.  You are His.

Also be bold to say, “Christ was baptized for me,” for so He was.

This is just the kind of Savior that you have in Jesus, One who truly saves, in whom you can say with certainty, “I am His, and He is mine.”  Amen.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, in Holy Baptism, You made me Your own through water and Word.  Help me not to despise this, Your work, claiming it as my own, but to believe in your grace and favor to me through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

“Christ is the One,” Matthew 11:2-15

 

2Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  4And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.  6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

      7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?  A reed shaken by the wind?  8What then did you go out to see?  A man dressed in soft clothing?  Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.  9What then did you go out to see?  A prophet?  Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.  10This is he of whom it is written,

       “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’

11Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  12From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.  13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.  15He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Here we have John the Baptist, the one who Jesus calls “more than a prophet” and the one of whom Jesus says, “Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:9, 11).

Jesus also says of John that he is Elijah who is to come, that same Elijah of the Old Testament who was said to come before the “coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” who would “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:5-6).

John is the one of whom it was written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You” (Matthew 11:10; Malachi 3:1).

It was this John of whom Jesus spoke so highly – who pointed to Christ.

He had not worn the soft clothes of king’s houses.

He was not a reed shaken by the wind.

He stood his ground.

Yet, it was this John who asked a question of Jesus that was plain and quite to the point, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

John’s question is the question worth asking.

Everlasting life and the Kingdom of Heaven are worth being sure of.

The Coming One would save His people from death, forgive their sins, and establish His kingdom forever.

This was the One promised to Adam and Eve, the One who would crush the serpent’ head (Genesis 3:15), the Prophet like Moses whom God would raise, who would speak to the people all that God the Father commanded Him, and whoever would not hear His words which He speaks in the Father’s Name, it would be required of Him (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).

The Coming One to which John referred was the One who would rule on King David’s throne forever.  He was the One who would build a house for the Lord’s Name whose kingdom would have no end.  This was He of whom the prophets prophesied and all the people had hoped to come.

Isaiah said of Him, “Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear!  Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.’  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing.  For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:4-6).

In another place, of Him who would come, Isaiah writes, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1).

John was asking the question about this One.

This One is none other than Jesus the Christ, the Savior of the world, the One foretold by the prophets, He who fulfilled all righteousness, and He who gives eternal rest and peace to all that trust in Him.

This One is God in the flesh, born as one of us, yet without sin.

John the Baptist also looked to this One.  He declared Him to be THE ONE, and John’s ministry ended.  But the ministry of Jesus goes on.

After John had heard in prison the works of Christ, he sent to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

This question and its answer are not without significance, nor are they without import to us in the 21st century.

John had heard.  And Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John what they had heard and seen.

John first heard correctly the things about Jesus.

Those things that John heard about Jesus were true.

Jesus’ Word and work testify to His identity.

His works and His Words bear witness to who He is.

These reveal to you that Christ is the Coming One, the Messiah, the Savior of the World.

He is the expectation of all Israel.

He is the One who delivers from sin and death.

He is the resurrection and life and no one comes to Father except through Him, the Son of living God.

The Coming One is the One that all will seek who hope to be saved.

Only an unbeliever would turn away from Him who declares God’s grace and hope to save himself.

That you not look to yourselves, or to another, or to false hopes of peace and prosperity in the world, the Lord directs you, as He directed John and His disciples, to His Word and Work.

Jesus had indeed given sight to the blind.

On one occasion, two blind men had followed Him, crying out, “Son of David, have mercy on us!  And when” Jesus “had come into the house, the blind men came to Him.  And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’  They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’  Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you’” (Matthew 9:27-29).

These two men received their sight from the only one who with a Word is able to do so.

On account of Christ, the lame walked.

A man who was lying on a bed was brought to Jesus.  Seeing the faith of the men who brought the one on the bed, Jesus said to the one lying down, “Your sins are forgiven.”

To demonstrate that the Son of Man, for so Jesus was, has power to forgive sins, He said to the man lying on the bed and who couldn’t walk, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house” (Matthew 9:6).

The man walked.

Christ not only forgives with the word, but has of Himself the power to heal with the word.

At the word of Jesus, lepers were cleansed.

In the 8th chapter of Matthew, we have this account.

“A leper came and worshiped Jesus, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’  Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’  Immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (Matthew 8:2-3).

Jesus raises the dead.  Jairus’ daughter, who had died before Jesus came, was said to have been sleeping and not dead.  And the mourners and the wailing ones laughed Jesus to scorn when He said this.  “But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.  And the report of this went out into all that land” (Matthew 9:18-26).

Jesus did all of these things, and more.

Through Him, the blind received their sight.

The lame walked. Lepers were cleansed.

Deaf ears were opened.

Dead were raised.

Poor had the gospel preached to them.

These works of God testify that Jesus is the Coming One.

In Christ, the words of Isaiah the prophet find fulfillment, and in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus Himself reads them and then says, “Today, these Scriptures are fulfilled in your hearing.”

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

Jesus preaches the Gospel that you believe it.

He heals you with His Holy Word.

He proclaims you free from the fear of death.

What Jesus does and what He says give witness to His identity.

Jesus’ word and work point to His work of redemption for all people, not just of the body, but also of the soul.

On the cross, His work for that redemption came to its culmination, for there on that tree, Christ gave His life – that you be at peace with the Father and so live.

In Christ, you are.

John’s question whether Jesus was the Coming One or not is given answer for all to hear and see.

The Word and work of Christ reveal Christ to be your Savior and the Savior of all who call out to Him.

The proclamation of His gospel reveals that He continues His work today.

Poor miserable sinners though you are, God declares you wealthy saints in Christ, having the riches of heaven and God’s favor.

“You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Jesus Christ came, not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those that are sick (Matthew 9:12-13).

Jesus, and Jesus alone, gives true healing, not only partially, but completely.

He gives eyes of faith that you see His Works of grace and mercy.

He gives you to walk according to His Word, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

He cleanses you of your sin and declares you clean before Him.

He opens your ears that you hear and believe His promises, for they faileth not (Lamentations 3:22).

He raises you from the deadness of your sin to new and abundant life in Him.

He proclaims His Gospel through Word, Water, and Holy Supper.

Christ is the Great Physician of both body and soul.

Christ’s work identifies Him as the Coming One, for so He is—for John, for his disciples, for you!

His Word and work point to His work on the cross, through which He declares you reconciled to God.

By His Work and by His Word Jesus, proclaims to you that you need not look for another.

Jesus is the One and there is no other.  Amen.

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to see Jesus and believe only in Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the salvation of my soul. Amen.

 

 

Christ is THE ONE

John’s is the question worth asking, for everlasting life and the Kingdom of Heaven are worth being sure of. Rest from all of one’s enemies and deliverance from eternal death are worth seeking out. The Coming One spoken of by John gives just these. He would save His people from death, forgive sins, and establish His kingdom forever.

This was the One promised to Adam and Eve, the One who would crush the serpent’ head (Genesis 3:15), the Prophet like Moses whom God would raise, who would speak to the people all that God the Father commanded Him, and whoever would not hear His words which He speaks in the Father’s Name, it would be required of Him (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).

The Coming One to which John referred was the One who would rule on King David’s throne forever. He was the One who would build a house for the Lord’s Name whose kingdom would have no end. This was He of whom the prophets prophesied and all the people had hoped to come.

Mt11.2-15, Advent 3, 2010A.pdf

The Preaching Of Repentance

John the Baptist preached a message of repentance. He called his hearers to turn from their sin and to hope in the One who was coming after him, the One whose sandals he was not worthy to carry. John was that voice of one crying in the wilderness, written about in Isaiah, who cried out, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:3 || Isaiah 40:3). John was sent, sent by God to prepare the way of the Lord, for the Lord was indeed coming.

The Apostles, too, preached a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. So Jesus, after His resurrection and before ascending into heaven, says to his disciples, Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47).

Mt03.1-12, Advent 2, 2010A.pdf

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