Text: Mark 1:4-11
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Being well pleased is something I think we all would enjoy. At times we are pleased to be recognized for things we do. It might be at church, work, or school where the work we do is seen by others, or it just might be a self awareness of things we have done that we are pleased about.
This weekend we begin the Epiphany Season. Christmas is over and this is the time when Christ is revealed to the world, made known in the visit of the Magi bearing gifts – the wise men journey to visit this King of the Jews. But our Gospel reading for today is of Jesus – fully grown - and beginning his ministry.
In last weekend’s sermon, Jesus was brought into the temple to do what the Law required and Simeon lifted up this baby Jesus proclaiming that he could depart in peace now that he had seen the Lord’s Christ!
Today we read about the man Jesus - not the 12 year old boy sitting in the Temple and teaching with the teachers with authority - but Jesus who is 30, beginning his ministry, and the one recognized by John as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Here, Jesus goes out to where John is Baptizing. We know very little about what went on over the last 18 years of Jesus’ life from his sitting in the Temple questioning the teachers of the Law to this time now and the beginning of his earthly ministry. But Mark’s gospel begins with a quote from the prophet Isaiah:
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way. He calls the people to repentance – to recognize their fallen state as sinners – and to repent.
To this water, and to this repentance, Jesus comes to John as one, mightier than John and even one whom the sandals of Jesus - John is not worthy to untie.
So why baptism, why Jesus and why by John?
Well, John was sent to prepare the way. He was sent to fulfill what the prophet had foretold. He was to be the voice and herald to the one who would come and is now here.
Mark believes that his gospel and Jesus’ baptism is a fitting place to start.
John had had great success and the people were going out to John, to repent of their sin and to receive this Baptism of Repentance from John.
Jesus came to this baptism to replace John (his work was done), and to replace you.
When Jesus was baptized he fulfilled what was promised, marked as a sinner in your place, he came to take away the sins of the world.
Jesus had no sin, he needed no repentance, but he came for you and for all who are born in the natural way, conceived in trespass and sin. His baptism was a baptism of death, in that Christ Jesus was marked to be the Lamb of God the once for all sacrifice who takes away your sin, and the sins of the whole world, so that you can be marked not for death … but for life.
In Christ, the Father is well pleased with you!
We daily fall short and are not well pleasing to the father and others most of the time.
Years ago at St. John in Rochester where I attended Dr. James Bolt, who was principle of the school, told a story about his son who was learning to drive. He had his learners permit and while dad was at work was practicing backing the car out of the garage and pulling it back in. As Dr. Bolt was getting home he said, “I noticed my wife and son waiting for me by the garage. As I walked up I could see the look of fear and sadness on my son’s face. As I got closer I could see that my wife wasn’t too happy either. Upon further investigation what I found out was that as my son practiced pulling the car in and out of the garage … on one of the times he was pulling the car in … he stepped on the gas instead of the break and pushed my table saw into the family room!”
“It was at that time that I had a really good lesson of Law and Gospel. As I looked at my son I saw that he knew quite well what he had done wrong and I didn’t need to remind him of that. So I gave him the gospel saying, you’re lucky your mom and I love you!”
And you [and I] are dead in trespass and sins. Eph 2:1
Because of sin and its consequence we live with the reality of being separated from God and of being God’s enemies. We live with this disaster and we die with this disaster apart from Christ because the wages of sin is death. Rom 6:21
We are born dead. Sounds funny? But spiritually we are dead. We are separated from God and it will take an act of God to restore us, to make us right with God and this is done only by Christ and only in Christ. With you and with me God is not pleased as we stand in our sinfulness and covered by our own righteousness in a sense having pushed his table saw into the family room.
But, Jesus came to be your substitute; to stand in your place; to be marked as a sinner, in your place and for you.
9 … Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
Here Jesus takes your place as the repentant one, he is without sin and acceptable by the father to be the once for all sacrifice.
10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Father is well pleased with Christ and in Christ the Father is well pleased with you!
The Baptism of Christ leads from the waters of repentance by John to Jerusalem, to Jesus and ultimately to the cross for you.
Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Jesus Christ has gone into the water of repentance for you. He then goes to finish the work for which he came and to give you what you need and could never attain on your own merit. He gives you life and salvation by his death and resurrection and he give you the kingdom of God by his saving act for you.
Though it may seem improbable for man - it is not with God who makes all things new in Christ.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.
Dear friends you are united and made new by Christ in Baptism you are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord and:
In Christ, the Father is well pleased with you!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!