Baptism Of Our Lord – A LSB #’s 596:1-3, 596:4-6, 468
Text – Romans 6:8
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.
LIVING WITH CHRIST
“What are you most afraid of living without?” In the realm of answering questions, that has to be one of the most uncomfortable to consider. There’s almost a superstition out there that if you name it then it’s more likely to come true. A friend of mine just lost sight in one eye due to a glaucoma procedure that didn’t go too well. He might regain it through more procedures.
I’ve read that losing your hearing isolates you far more than losing your sight. Losing our health in general affects everything we do. Losing a spouse or child causes the shape of our world to collapse. Losing a job can mean financial disaster. “What are you most afraid of living without?” It’s the sort of question we’d rather not consider at all. The tension is too troubling.
In some ways, the tension of living or dying is easier, at least for those who follow Jesus. We know that death, and the resurrection to follow, bring the ultimate in life – heaven, paradise, everlasting glory. But to willingly and submissively endure suffering in our daily lives that’s where we run into serious resistance in our desire to follow Jesus.
Yet, our Savior willingly and submissively endured suffering and death, because that was His heavenly Father’s will for Him. Beyond that, even when Jesus was not physically being tortured, there are countless occasions when He put Himself last in order that others could be 1st. This occurred as Jesus took time to heal someone, or to get into the mess of their sins and forgive.
It also occurred when Jesus took time to rebuke someone, or to chastise them, such as the Pharisees. Even in those circumstances, Jesus acted out of love – often to His own detriment. His rebukes were one of the reasons they plotted to have Jesus killed, and you know how He died. In spite of that, God’s Son willingly and submissively obeyed His Father in heaven. Jesus told His disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16 ESV) Since you and I are not ‘greater than Jesus’ we should expect times, in our daily lives, of real struggle and heartache. This world is not just somewhat less than perfect. It is entirely dead in sin. We live and we function in that world.
Knowing that, Jesus said, “…Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT) By faith we know that everything turns out right in the end, but there are many tears along the way. We know that everything turns out for good in the end, but we experience the terror of evil along the way.
We know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him in the end, yet there are many broken souls who don’t know anything of God’s love. We know that God makes everything beautiful in its time, still, we wonder if we can hang on till then.
Being a child of God is not easy in this broken world. Our moments and our days are filled with the tension between darkness and light, between good and evil, between health & illness. Your heart & your very soul are stretched between sin and forgiveness, between death and life. That’s what happens to you when you’re baptized. You become a saint as well as a sinner.
St. Paul writes about the tension of living between those two worlds: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4 ESV)
Through Baptism we become God’s children and that means we become citizens of a different dimension. Here on this broken earth there is length and width and height and time. There are the laws of nature, such as gravity and the speed of light. We can measure each of them and we experience them in tangible ways. Preschool children love to show me their age by holding up the appropriate number of fingers. We track our height and our weight, and we count calories. The dimensions and laws of nature are such a part of the fabric of our lives that we find it almost impossible to think outside of the box they describe. I believe that is a result of the fall into sin.
Albert Einstein is known as a genius for his ability to dream up the amazing ideas of quantum physics that were unknown at the time. Yet, even those are nothing more than part of the box that we live in. Quantum physics, as unfathomable as it may be, still does not transcend the time and the space created by our heavenly Father. God does transcend His creation.
In spite of the corrupted relationship we have with our Creator, because of our sin, as children of God we have already been made eternal. That means you and I transcend space and time right now through being raised from the death of sin by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the Word of God declares, in Romans 6, it is through our Baptism that God connects us to Jesus:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (6:3-4 ESV) That newness of life far and away transcends what we can measure today.
That newness of life far and away transcends what you and I experience today. It is the connection with Christ, the eternal Lord of the universe, which gives Baptism its power to save us, to transform us, and to open up the heavens to us. Listen to what Matthew wrote in the Gospel:
“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him.” (3:16 ESV) That moment was not within the normal dimensions of time and space. It was a miracle revealing a glimpse of what’s out there beyond what you or I can measure.
In fact, all of Jesus’ miracles were that – events which transcended the normal laws of
nature. That anyone believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior transcends the boundaries of this world which has been corrupted and broken by sin. As Jesus, in His human flesh, saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, Yahweh was revealing something from beyond our space and time; “And beholds, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’”
That Son came to earth to take our place; not only in death, but also in the life He lived before He died. That life was perfect in willingly and submissively enduring suffering and even death. That life Jesus lived was perfect in willingly and submissively obeying the heavenly Father. And through Baptism Jesus’ perfection is credited to us.
Through the water and the command of God, the benefits of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are conveyed to us through Baptism. Our very existence is transformed in that now we are already eternal, transcending the boundaries of space and time.
It’s just that our bodies have not yet been transformed, so we have no way to measure this new dimension in which we live. We have no way to experience this new dimension in which we live, except as the Holy Spirit grants us that privilege.
That creates a tremendous amount of tension in our lives as we want to see the things of that new dimension. But for now it is God’s will that we live by faith and not by sight. We see our old Adam very well. The saintly nature is almost invisible at times, so much so that Paul could honestly say:
“The good I want to do, I do not do. The evil I do not want to do, I keep on doing.” That’s a tough way to live. It’s why we’re afraid of having to live without certain things. We lean upon what we can see, rather than what we know by faith to be true. The antidote that Paul gives is this:
“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Our
present life gets its character, direction and purpose from the fact that we shall live with Christ who already is risen from the dead and lives a life beyond death, in a new and glorified body. The joy of Easter morning is that one day we shall join Him.
Another way to look at this is, “Living with Christ means giving up everything, then trusting Him to give back to you what is best for you. That might mean giving up what you are most afraid of living without. However, whenever we live in fear of losing something, then we aren’t really living with Christ.
Knowing that, Jesus said, “…Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT) In Baptism you have received that promise and the faith to trust and believe it. Amen.
You were before your day of birth, indeed, from your conception, condemned and lost with all the earth, none good, without exception. For like your parents’ flesh and blood, turned inward from the highest good, you constantly denied Him. In Baptism we now put on Christ – our shame is fully covered with all that He once sacrificed and freely for us suffered. For here the flood of His own blood now makes us holy, right and good before our heavenly Father. So use it well! You are made new – in Christ a new creation! As faithful Christians, live and do within your own vocation, until that day when you possess His glorious robe of righteousness bestowed on you forever. Amen. LSB 596:2, 4, 6.
 Matthew 3:17 ESV
Pastor Dean R. Poellet