The Baptism of our Lord – Series C – Luke 3:15-22
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Everything that our Lord does, he does for us, and in our place.
In his nativity, he takes up our flesh and is born for us.
In his fulfillment of the Law, he is perfectly faithful in our place.
He is tempted, tested, hated, tortured and killed, all so that he do this for us, and in our place.
So it is, that also on this day, what we are given to see in the flow of the Jordan River, is that our Lord is now baptized for us, and indeed, in our place.
For this how we are to understanding this Messiah-washing, heaven-opening, Spirit-descending, Father-proclaiming event.
Christ must be drowned in Baptism, because it is needed for you.
And yet, as straightforward as that explanation may be, we are still, no doubt, given to scratch our heads and wonder, “But why?”
“Why must the pure and holy God be washed clean with the dirty water from the Jordan River?”
“Why must the sinless Christ be baptized for the forgiveness of sins that he doesn’t have?”
The reason that Jesus is baptized should take our breath away. It is food for thought and meditation. It is no small thing, but indeed the very wonder of the Gospel this Sunday.
For Christ enters the waters and is baptized for the forgiveness of sin, precisely because he has come to be counted as sin itself.
He is the Lamb of God, who takes away, and bears upon himself, the sin of the world.
Where in his nativity, he stepped forth into flesh and stood with us in the solidarity of body and blood.
So today in his baptism, he steps forth into the Jordan River and now stands for us, and in our place, in the solidarity of our sin and the condemnation that it demands.
That is why Jesus is being baptized, for this baptism is for sinners, and he comes to take the place of sinners…every one of them, the whole of sinful humanity now washed onto his very body.
Here at the hands of John the Baptist, the Christ, which means, the anointed one, is now anointed for work of redemption.
And he himself, just as you and I, in the Holy Baptism that has been given to us, he is anointed as the Son, and yet also with the Holy Spirit, and with the love and name of the Father.
Christ’s Baptism, is the foundation of our Baptism. His washing is what makes this washing, truly life-giving and salvation-making.
Without it…we have no true baptism.
Yet because, his own baptism is given to be our own, we therefore, find in Luke chapter 3, the same presence of the Holy Trinity that is found in the water and word of this very font, in this very place.
For what is it that we see at the Jordan River?
The heavens are split open, the Holy Spirit descends, and the Father’s voice echoes from above.
Here is a day and an anointing, filled to the brim with the full force of the Holy Trinity.
The Son is here, in these waters, anointed as the True Son, as he now bears the sin of the world and carries it forward to the mount of his cross.
And it is this name, this anointing, that has come to be given also to you.
At the waters of Holy Baptism, you have received nothing short of his full and perfect death, his righteousness and his peace, all given for you and in your place.
And yet, this is not the only name that you have been given.
For Christ is also anointed with the Holy Spirit, the one that comes down as a dove, the one who now remains with him, takes his form from him, receives his own word and bears his own image.
For it is this Holy Spirit that now carries and drives him from the River to the wilderness, it is this Holy Spirit who keeps, guards and protects against all temptation and the attacks of the devil.
It is this Holy Spirit, the one who remains with Christ; who provides the strength for the journey; true faith in the very face of death, and this Spirit which is given up unto the Church and to the Christian at the death of Christ on the cross.
This Spirit is indeed the one proceeds from the Son, as our Creeds confess.
He is, as the New Testament proclaims him, none other than the ‘Spirit of Christ’.
And he comes to be given to you.
In the washing of sins forgiven, you have received this Holy Spirit which proceeds now from the journey and faith of the Son.
This is none other than the Spirit of the Christ, nothing short of his own faith, his own life, his own word, his own keeping.
And yet again, we know full well, that these two are not the only names that you have received.
For indeed, the Christ who prays in the midst of the Jordan River, receives also the anointing of the Father; his perfect love, and his perfect peace.
The one who proclaims, “This is my Beloved Son, with You I am well pleased”, and this name, this anointing, this proclamation, is also to be given to you.
For it is through this Christ, who has and does everything for you and in your place, that you have now in Holy Baptism been given the name of the Father; the proclamation that you are and remain the beloved Son, the rightful heirs of his heavenly kingdom.
Indeed, everything that our Lord does, he does for you.
He has taken your place, and in turn, given you his.
So that as he stands for you in the Jordan River; as he journeys for you in the wilderness of temptation; as he bears up for you under the hatred of the world and is lifted up for you in the pain and agony of his cross…he might in turn, through the very promise and gift of these waters and this Word, deliver to you, the very fullness of himself.
Dear Christian, behold, You are found in Christ, through the water and Holy Word of Baptism.
Yes, there in the Jordan River you are found in his body and blood.
There in the wilderness, as temptation surrounds you, you the baptized are with Christ, in Christ, protected and kept by His spirit.
There in the hatred of the world, you the baptized are in Christ, beloved by the Father.
There in the uncertainty of death, you the baptized, are found in Christ, held fast in the certainty of his own resurrection, his victory and his peace.
There in him, in his body, in his blood, in his water, in his Word, your faith and your life remains.
For he has taken your place, and given you his own.
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.