“THE GREAT EXCHANGE!”
Text: Matthew 3:13-17, Romans 6
Sunday January 8th, 2023 – Baptism of Our Lord
Trinity – Creston/Mt. Ayr
Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Our text for this Baptism of Our Lord is the Gospel lesson from Matthew 3 that was just proclaimed.
Let Us Pray: Dearest Jesus, send your Holy Spirit to enable each of us to realize that our baptism into you is a present reality that never changes on your end. May each of us continue to see our baptism as a lifeline that connects us to your gifts of life and salvation. Amen.
Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ:
Have you ever noticed that we use the Triune name of God a lot during a typical church service? When we start, we come before God and say, "In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The same thing happens when I, as your pastor, forgive sins.
I say, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Then there are all the times that we praise God with the words, "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Anyone who walks in off the street should understand that the name of God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - is very important to us.
Have you ever considered that the name of God is the first thing that most of us heard when we became Christians? If we were baptized before we were able to understand words, then the Holy Spirit worked faith in us at our baptism.
The first words we heard as the water touched us were, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," the same words that begin the order of service on Sundays.
One of the things that we are doing when we use God's name in this way is pointing to our baptism. We are coming before God to receive His service by virtue of our baptism. We receive the forgiveness of sins using the same name in which we were baptized. You see, baptism is not just a one time deal. We were baptized then and are baptized now.
In this regard, baptism is a lot like marriage. I can say that Julie and I were married on August 30, 1997. I can also say that by the grace of God, Julie and I are still married. In a similar way, I can say that I was baptized on May 19, 1969, and I can also say that, by the grace of God, I am still baptized.
One of the things we remember when we use God's name is that we are still His baptized children.
When we see that the Lord's name reminds us of baptism, we also begin to understand why it is so important for us to know about baptism, our own baptism and the baptism of Jesus. That is the reason that the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to include the baptism of our Lord in His account of the Gospel.
The baptism of our Lord is the official start of His public ministry. We learn this from an event that happened after Jesus ascended into heaven. Judas had betrayed Jesus and the apostles were in the process of selecting his replacement. As they were discussing the replacement the Apostle Peter said, [Acts 1:21-22]
"So, one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection." Although Jesus still ministers to us every day, His public ministry extended from His baptism in the Jordan by John until He ascended into heaven.
So, Jesus began His ministry by being baptized, but why? That was the question that John had. We heard some of the things John said about Jesus back during the Advent season. He said, [Matthew 3:11] "He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry."
When Jesus came to John for baptism, John must have thought something like, "I am not worthy to carry His sandals and He wants me to baptize Him?" We know that something like this must have gone through his mind because He said, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
If John was puzzled when Jesus came for baptism, it makes sense that we too, ought to wonder why Jesus needed baptism. After all, John's baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus had no sins. Why did He need baptism?
Perhaps I need to rephrase that. Jesus had no sins of His own. Instead, He had our sin. Martin Luther said this well in His flood prayer. Through the Baptism in the Jordan of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, You sanctified and instituted all waters to be a blessed flood and a lavish washing away of sin.
Jesus entered baptism with no sin. He left with our sin. What an exchange! Before the baptism, He was sinless. After the baptism He was sinful - not with His own sin, but with our sin. He took onto Himself the sin of the entire world.
As the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to say, [2 Corinthians 5:21] "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
The justice of God requires the punishment of sin. His love seeks to save us from that punishment. When John baptized Jesus, God placed our sin on Jesus. Jesus, in turn, carried those sins to the cross. Jesus didn’t need to be baptized for his own good. We needed Jesus to baptized for our benefit!
There on the cross, Jesus satisfied both God's justice and His love. God's justice was satisfied by punishing our sin IN Jesus Christ. God's love was satisfied by punishing Jesus Christ instead of us. In this way, God punished our sin without punishing us.
What does this mean for our baptism? The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to answer that question in today's Epistle. All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. These words teach us that through baptism we share all things with Christ Jesus.
In the eyes of God's justice, Christ's punishment is our punishment. Christ's death is our death. Although it is Jesus Christ who endured the wrath of God, God's justice credits that endurance to us. Through baptism into Christ, God's justice declares that we have paid the due penalty for all our sin.
Not only do we avoid the punishment of sin, but we also receive the reward of Christ's righteousness. As Paul goes on to say, "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. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his."
Through baptism we share in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even though we die in this world, we shall be raised to newness of life.
When Jesus took on our sin, He not only took on our daily sins, but He also took on our sinful nature - the source of our great sin. As Paul's inspired words continue to say, "We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin."
That old self that was crucified with Jesus is our sinful nature. This is the sin that inhabited us from the moment of conception as we learn from King David's confession: [Psalm 51:5] "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." Through baptism, Jesus joins us to Him and releases us from this curse.
The baptism of Jesus establishes baptism as a Gospel pipeline. There are two other Gospel pipelines, the Word of God and the Lord's Supper. The source of these Gospel pipelines is Jesus Christ hanging on a cross just outside of first century Jerusalem.
These Gospel pipelines take the forgiveness of sins that Jesus earned on that cross and carry it out to the world. These Gospel pipelines are formally known as the Means of Grace.
Baptism and the other two Means of Grace pour forth a river of forgiveness here in twenty-first century. As forgiveness pours forth from baptism and the other Means of Grace, the Holy Spirit uses that forgiveness to produce faith in us.
In turn that faith gives us the ability to receive that forgiveness of sins and the life and salvation that come with it. The Means of Grace such as baptism take the forgiveness of sins that Jesus earned for us on the cross and deliver that forgiveness to us to be received by faith.
God the Father and God the Holy Spirit acknowledged this beginning of Jesus ministry. In an epiphany to those gathered at the river, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus. God the Father expressed His pleasure with the words, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
From this grand epiphany, the Father and the Spirit show us that Jesus is indeed the Son of God who has come into the world in order to save it from sin.
This epiphany also shows the forces of evil that our champion, Jesus, has taken His stand and the battle has now begun. The battle will be fierce, but our Lord Jesus will triumph over evil. Through baptism, His triumph will be our triumph. Amen
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.