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Baptism of our Lord
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
January 11,2004
“Washed In God's Name”
Introduction:  Today we celebrate the baptism of our Lord Jesus by John the Baptist in the waters of the Jordan River.
As Jesus submits to John’s baptism, a baptism of repentance from sin, Jesus identifies Himself with us.
The sinless one identifies Himself as a sinner.
Thus, He actively fulfills the law of God and receives God’s grace on behalf of all sinners and therefore us.
Through His baptism, where He is anointed, that is set a part, as the Lamb of God, God reveals Him who will baptize His own with the Holy Spirit.
As we look at Jesus, who was baptized for us, we remember our own baptisms.
To this end we join together in the reading of Luther’s Small Catechism regarding Holy Baptism.
*The Nature of Baptism and Blessing of Baptism.*
After Jesus rose from the dead, He sent His disciples on a mission.
Jesus told them to make disciples wherever they went.
A disciple in the Bible is a student.
So, Jesus told His students to make the class bigger by adding more students to it.
He also told them how they make disciples of people.
At the head of the list is baptism.
"Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."
Baptism is closely connected to Jesus' rising from the dead.
Jesus rose from the dead to save us from sin, death, and the power of the devil.
Jesus promised that whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved.
Baptism makes the resurrection of  Jesus from the dead known to us.
To baptize means to wash something.
Jesus once pointed out that the Pharisees baptize, that is wash, everything: cups, pitchers, kettles, and recliner chairs.
And as we all know there are many ways to wash things.
Some time the whole thing is dipped in water, sometimes only part of it.
Some times we only dip a clothe and then use that to was a thing off.
Many people wash dishes and the kitchen table with the same washcloth.
The dishes were dipped, the table wasn't.
Both get baptized or washed according to the way the word was used in Bible times.
Christian baptism is a sacred bath and it too takes many kinds of forms, from dipping or immersion to a mere sprinkling of water.
The quantity or depth of water is not the issue.
The purpose is the issue.
The purpose of Christian baptism is connected to the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
We are supposed to make disciples by baptizing people in the name of God.
Now, we wash clothes in the washing machine.
We wash dishes in the sink.
We wash ourselves in the shower, the sink, or the bathtub.
We baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
So the name of God is the place where Christian washing happens.
A close look at the name of God, here given in three parts, tells us what happens in this sacred bath.
The name of the Father is branded on creation.
Father is what we call the man who gave life to us and uses his strength to protect and care for us.
God the Father is the Maker of heaven and earth.
He is our maker, our Father.
The name of the Son is branded on the church (we call it the "Christian" church, don't we?).
Through it If one is a son, he has a father.
If one has a bride He has a wife.
The Church is the bride of Christ through which God’s children are born.
Together, they make a family, the family of God.
We have been made family through the Son of God who was willing to sacrifice himself on the cross to bring us together.
We are also baptized in the name of the Holy Spirit.
He gives us our life and breath as Christians.
He gives us new life in Christ by faith.
Through His power we are sustained and protected.
The Holy Spirit gives us life by breathing into us the Word of God and applies the blood of Christ to us, washing us clean from sin and death.
We should not be surprised, then, that Jesus wants us to baptize everyone.
Baptism brings a person into the family of God.
Baptism joins us to the saving work of Jesus.
Baptism gives us a new start in life.
For most Christians, this happens very near the beginning of their human lives.
That's because we know people are sinful from the moment they are microscopic dots inside their mothers.
They are doomed to die.
We know they need to hear the message of forgiveness of sins and eternal life as soon as possible.
Jesus said do not hinder the children and to such as these belongs the kingdom of God.
Through baptism and through the forgiveness of sins, they too receive this kingdom.
Baptism acts out this message -- we actually see God forgiving sins, receiving God’s grace apart from anything that a person could do.
When water is used according to the command of Jesus, a miracle happens.
The water carries to us the cleansing power of God's Word and carries away the dirt of sin.
Anyone who is baptized owns a place in God's eternal family.
*The Power of Baptism, The significance of Baptizing with Water.*
Prayer: We thank You, Lord Jesus, that You sent people to make disciples of us, who baptized us.
We know that baptism joins us to You and sets us apart from sin, death, and the devil.
When we are bothered by shame, remind us that all our sins were washed away at our baptism, even those we had not yet committed.
Help us believe that, whether spoken or acted out, as in baptism, Your Word of forgiveness touches our whole life, not just the part we have already lived.
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