January 16, 2020
Dear members of our Calvary family:
Of all the miracles Jesus performed, one I’d really love to see replayed is his walking on water over a windswept sea. You’d click on that video if it came up on YouTube, wouldn’t you? And what do you suppose you would see? Jesus clearing white-capped waves like an Olympian hurdler? Or Jesus deftly sliding from one wave to the next as if on a skateboard? I’ve always pictured the water where Jesus stepped becoming calm so that it looked as if our Savior was peacefully walking down a garden path. However he did it, it sure impressed the disciples.
But do you realize that before Jesus walked on water he walked into water? That’s what happened when he waded into the Jordan River at the beginning of his ministry to be baptized by John. Why was Jesus baptized? Baptism washes away sin. But Jesus had no sin to wash away. Yet he was baptized. You see, by stepping into line with those sinners waiting to be baptized at the Jordan, Jesus was saying to them and to us: “I will become what you are: a lazy student, a worry-wart, a dirty old man, a sassy child, a whiner, a grudge-holder. I will become this when I let God the Father collect all your sins into his heavenly waste bin and dump them all on me at the cross. Meanwhile you will go free and will be declared to be what I am – a faithful child with whom the Father is well pleased.”
As if to punctuate this truth, the heavens tore open at Jesus’ baptism, for, with the Messiah’s arrival, the wall that had separated a holy God from sinful people would be ripped up. The Father’s voice, the tearing open of the heavens, it should have been enough to convince John and the others standing around that Jesus was the God-man for the job of saving the world. But the Holy Spirit too put his mark of approval on Jesus at that baptism when he made an appearance, not as a flashing tongue of fire as he would on Pentecost, but arriving in the form of a gentle dove, drifting down from heaven and resting on Jesus.
What an event Jesus’ baptism was. But do you realize that your baptism was quite the event too? When water was poured over your head and God’s name was pronounced, all heaven broke loose as the Holy Spirit descended on you to create or to strengthen faith, and God the Father proclaimed: “This is my child whom I love.” Our baptisms bring great comfort when Satan questions our status before God. After getting us to fall into sin, Satan will point to our grumpiness, he will denounce our lustfulness, and he will condemn our greediness and then ask how we can claim to be God’s children? We can claim to be God’s children because that’s what God declared us to be in baptism. Remember your baptism every day. It gives you your identity. You are a child of God!
I look forward to being with you in church this weekend. The Lord has told us, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it." (Luke 11:28)
Pastor Martin Spaude