MESSAGE: Baptism of our Lord Sunday – A – 8 January 2023
THEME: Jesus revealed
I’m sure you recognize what I have in my hand. It’s a photo album. Most parents have several photo albums that are full of pictures taken of their children as they were growing up. We have always been very pleased with our children. (Show a few pictures as you talk.)
Do you think God was pleased with His son, Jesus?
I know He was, because the Bible tells us that He was. When Jesus was baptized, the Bible tells us that there was a voice from heaven that said, “This is my Son and I love Him. I am very pleased with Him.”
Why do you think God was pleased with His son?
(Open your Bible to Matthew 3:17.) Let’s read that verse again to see what God said first: “This is my Son and I love him. I am very pleased with him.”
What did God say first? (Allow time for kids to answer.)
That’s right! God said, “This is my Son!” God said, “This is my Son and I love him.”
What’s the second thing God said? (Allow time for kids to answer.)
That’s right! God said, “I love him.” God loves His son!
(Show kids the photo album again.) These pictures show a lot of things that our children did. But more than anything, these pictures show that these are OUR kids. They belong to us. And we love them!
When we trust in Jesus as our Saviour, we become the children of God. Our baptism is like an official adoption ceremony. God loves us from the very beginning when we become His children because that is what He wants us to be.
God says to us, “You are my son. You are my daughter. And I love you!” God loves you! That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?
I wonder if God has a photo album in heaven with your pictures in it. I know He has a book with all His children’s names in it.
God is pleased with you when you become His child. It’s wonderful to hear God say, “You are my child. I love you. And I am pleased with you.”
The season of Epiphany is when we celebrate the revealing of Christ to the world.
We mark the arrival of the One who is the light of the world: a light that brings life, a light that brings hope.
This light shines its brightest when we are in community – with God and with one another.
As we have entered this season after Epiphany, we read the Gospel accounts that reveal who Christ is to the world.
The Context of Jesus’ Baptismal Scene
Jesus’ public activity does not begin until Matthew 4:17 (see the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany). The chapters prior to 4:17 establish Jesus’ identity as God’s agent whose public activity, commencing at 4:17, enacts God’s will and reign. By Matthew 3 Jesus has been
contextualized in God’s life-giving, ruling activity among Israel and the nations (1:1-17),
divinely commissioned from conception to manifest God’s saving presence (1:18-25),
born of Mary (1:25-2:1),
threatened by the murderous King Herod (2:1-23),
homaged by the magi (2:1-12),
neglected by the Jerusalem leaders (2:3-6),
protected by Joseph (2:13-23),
attested by the scriptures (2:1-23),
guided by God (2:1-23),
and witnessed to by John (3:1-12).
These chapters have established Jesus as God’s anointed agent (Christ), son of David and Abraham, Emmanuel, king of the Jews. In his baptism, Jesus, in his first action as an adult, affirms this identity and commission. God bears witness in verbalizing Jesus’ identity as God’s son or agent (Matthew 3:13-17).
At Christ’s baptism, Christ is made known to us in the act of his baptism, of his consenting to be as human as any of us, not exploiting the power of God but emptying himself in humility (Philippians 2:5-11).
He continues to enact this cleansing work among us as we’re reminded of our baptism when we speak his holy name at the beginning of worship, when we repent of our sins and hear his gracious and undeserving words of forgiveness, and when he welcomes us at his holy banqueting table as forgiven and holy people of God through faith.
Here we celebrate the fact God’s goodness, love, mercy and righteousness is greater than our capacity to sin!
John had been explaining that Jesus’ baptism would be much greater than his, when suddenly Jesus came to him and asked to be baptized! John felt unqualified. He wanted Jesus to baptize him. Why did Jesus ask to be baptized? It was not for repentance for sin because Jesus never sinned. “To fulfill all righteousness” means to accomplish God’s mission. Jesus saw his baptism as advancing God’s work. Jesus was baptized because (1) he was confessing sin on behalf of the nation, as Nehemiah, Ezra, Moses, and Daniel had done; (2) he was showing support for what John was doing; (3) he was inaugurating his public ministry; (4) he was identifying with the penitent people of God, not with the critical Pharisees who were only watching. Jesus, the perfect man, didn’t need baptism for sin, but he accepted baptism in obedient service to the Father, and God showed his approval.
3:15 Put yourself in John’s shoes. Your work is going well, people are taking notice, everything is growing. But you know that the purpose of your work is to prepare the people for Jesus (John 1:35–37). Then Jesus arrives, and his coming tests your integrity. Will you be able to turn your followers over to him? John passed the test by publicly baptizing Jesus. Soon he would say, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Can we, like John, put our egos and profitable work aside in order to point others to Jesus? Are we willing to lose some of our status so that everyone will benefit?
How is Jesus revealed through the scriptures today: A prophecy of God’s coming servant, who fulfils God’s promise, and who will bring justice and comfort. From Isaiah: He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. 5 Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6 I am the Lord , I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
Through Baptism we receive forgiveness of sins. We are refreshed and reset to the heart and will of God. REPENT to turn away from sin/darkness and turn to the light of Christ.
From Acts 10: What then are we called to do? He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’
The Baptism of Christ, then, is for us a listening to God’s proclamation of who Christ is, and what Christ has come to do. We are the witnesses to Christ. And then, it is also a call for us to be proclaimers, messengers, carrying what we have seen and experienced into the world in quiet, but significant, words and deeds.