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“You Are My Beloved Son”
Luke 3:21-22


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
The Baptism of Our Lord–First Sunday after the Epiphany—January 13, 2013

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Our meditation for the festival of The Baptism of Our Lord is based on today’s Gospel Reading: “Now it happened that when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized, and while he was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”

It’s always a joyous occasion when a baby is born.  We are especially happy and thankful when the baby is healthy.  But, the Bible makes clear that even babies with the best physical health nevertheless are born with a serious spiritual sickness.  As David says in today’s Introit from Psalm 51, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, all of their descendants, all members of the human race—except for the Baby Jesus—have been born with a deadly spiritual disease called sin.  Inherited sin, passed down through the generations; original sin, from birth.  Left untreated, this spiritual sickness always ends the same terrible way: eternal death and damnation.  As the Augsburg Confession of the Lutheran Church says, “Since the fall of Adam all men who are begotten in the natural way are conceived and born in sin. . .  full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers?’ wombs . . . unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God. . . this inborn sickness and hereditary sin?? . . . condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.”

“But,” Paul says in today’s Gradual from Titus, “when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”  That’s what the Christian Sacrament of Holy Baptism really is; not just an empty ritual, but “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

God showed his kindness and love for you by sending his Son to be your Savior.  The Babe of Bethlehem was without the stain of sin, as the angel told Mary, “The Holy One to be born of you will be called the Son of God.”  He alone was holy, he alone lived a perfect, blameless life, as 1st John says, “He appeared to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”  That is why at his Baptism God the Father proclaims from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Yet, though he was sinless, he did suffer the penalty for sin.  Not his own sin, for he was without sin; he suffered for our sin.  Peter puts it this way in his 1st Epistle, “Surely he bore our sins in his body on the cross.”  On the cross Jesus suffered and died as an atoning sacrifice to take away our sins, and not only ours, but the sins of the whole world.  As Jesus declared, “The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Your sins, the original sin you were born with, and actual sins you have committed in your life, are all forgiven, because God’s Son gave his life as a ransom for you.

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”  That proclamation from God the Father at Jesus’ Baptism applies not only to Jesus but also to you.  Paul puts it this way in today’s Epistle Reading: “All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

When my father was sick with cancer, I remember vividly being with him when the doctor explained how severe the chemotherapy would be, by saying, “In order to cure you we almost have to kill you.”  It’s the same with the deadly disease of sin.  The only cure is to die and be born again.  But, mere humans are incapable of dying and rising again, so the Son of God died and rose again for us.  It’s like someone else enduring chemotherapy in your place, and by their suffering making you cured. Through Holy Baptism you receive the blessings of forgiveness earned for you by Christ’s death and resurrection, just as if you had died and were born again. “All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”  God the Father makes that proclamation not only over Jesus at his Baptism, but also over you at your Baptism into Christ.  Paul puts it this way in Galatians: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

Because you are God’s beloved son or daughter through Baptism into Christ, you are included in God’s precious promises in today’s Old Testament Reading:  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. . . Fear not, for I am with you.”

Amen.

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