January 13, 2019

Rev. Mark F. Bartels



Old Testament Lesson; Isaiah 42:1-7

Epistle Lesson; Acts 10:34-38                              

Sermon Text; Luke 3:15-17

                       Luke 3:21-22


The text that is typically looked at the First Sunday of Epiphany is The Baptism of Christ.  It is taken from Luke, chapter three, verses fifteen through seventeen, and then, twenty one through twenty two.  This is in Jesus' name.


The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John could be the Christ.  John answered them all, “I baptize you with water.  But someone mightier than I is coming.  I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor.  He will gather the wheat into His barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too.  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 Son, whom I love.  I am well pleased with you.”


These are your words Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



What would you do if this happened to you?  It happened to Martin Luther, one day.  Somehow, some young guy got access to Martin Luther, and was able to talk to Martin Luther.  (This young guy was in deep, emotional distress.)  He went in, and talked to Martin Luther.  He knew Jesus died for the sins of the world, but this young man was so bothered about something he had done, personally, so bothered about some thought he had, or something he had done that he was in deep turmoil.  He was totally uncertain if God loved him, whether God forgave him, whether he was going to be saved, and be in Heaven.  And so, he just poured out his soul to Martin Luther, confessing all of these sins, his doubts, and uncertainty. 

If somebody came, and did that to you, what would you say?  What would you do?  How would you try to comfort them? 

Here is what Martin Luther did.  He listened to the young man, and when the young man was all done pouring out his heart to Martin Luther, Martin Luther said, “Don't you know that you are baptized?  Don't you know that you are baptized?”

What's so comforting about knowing you are baptized?

Martin Luther even once said, “Not enough Christians run back to their baptism.  Even less Christians run back, and glory in what happened at their baptism.”
What is so big about our baptism?  Did you know your baptism is all about who you are?  It's about your identity. 

In fact, Jesus' baptism at the Jordan River was also all about who He is, and about His identity.

Baptism is about who you are.

Let's look at Jesus' baptism first, and how it identifies Jesus.  And then, let's look at how our baptism identifies who we are, and how they are tied together.

First of all, let's look at Jesus' baptism.  Did you know one day John the Baptist said, “For this purpose I came baptizing with water...”?

Do you know what the purpose was?  He said, “For this purpose, I came baptizing with water that He might be revealed to Israel.”

In other words, John was saying, “I came baptizing with water so that some day His identity would become evident to all of Israel.” 

Whose identity?  Who was Israel waiting for?  Who were they expectantly thinking might be coming some day?  Well, our passage begins by saying they were all expectantly waiting, and even thought that John might be the Christ. 

The people were waiting expectantly

and were all wondering in their hearts if John could be the Christ.

And so, in order to understand what happened at Jesus' baptism, there are three words that are really important for you to understand.  They are these three words:  Messiah, Christ, and Anointed. 

Those three words - Messiah, Christ, and Anointed all mean the exact same thing.  They are just different languages.  That is all they are. 

        -Messiah is Hebrew.  It is taken from The Old Testament.  It means, 'the Anointed One'. 

        -Christ is Greek.  It is taken from The New Testament.  It means, 'the Anointed One'. 

        -And of course, the word Anointed in English means, 'the Anointed One'. 

And so, those words can be used interchangeably. 

What does it mean to be anointed?  The word 'anoint' actually means, 'to smear, rub, or pour out something on someone'. 

When someone was anointed, they were put into an office, or a role, or a job that they were to do. 

-So, for example, when kings were anointed, when David was anointed, oil was poured on his head.  With that, he was put into the office, or role of being a king. 

-When priests were anointed, oil was poured on their head.  They were anointed, and then with that, they were placed in the office, or job of being priest. 

-Even items in the temple were anointed with oil.  Oil was poured on them, and then with that those items were consecrated, and set apart for special use in the temple.

The Old Testament said this Messiah, this Anointed One was going to come.  Something would be poured out on someone in a public fashion, and he would be publicly put into this role of The Messiah, The Anointed One. 

They understood from The Old Testament The Messiah's job, the Anointed One's job was going to be to come, and save Israel, to redeem Israel. 

And, they understood from The Old Testament He was going to be the very Son of God.  And so, they were all waiting for when this was going to happen.  “When is the Messiah going to come?”  “How are we going to know?”  “When is He going to be publicly anointed?”

And so, what happened at Jesus' baptism?  At Jesus' baptism, The Bible tells us He was anointed.  But, it was not with oil.  It says, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.  And He went around doing good, and healing everyone who was under the oppression of the devil, because God was with Him.” 

Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit.  John the Baptist even said to the people sometime after Jesus had been baptized,  “I didn't know who He was, the One who was going to come, and be the Messiah.   I would not have known who He was except the One who sent me told me the One on whom you see the Holy Spirit descend and remain, He is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” 

Then John said, “I testify I saw the Holy Spirit land on Him, and remain on Him.  I testify He is the Son of God.” 

Jesus was anointed into His office there, as the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Redeemer of Israel.  Jesus, when He stood in Nazareth to preach on a Saturday, opened up to the book of Isaiah, and what did He read?  He said,

“The Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.” 

So, at Jesus' baptism, He was clearly identified as the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One.  Even the voice of God, the Father, was heard speaking to Jesus,

“You, you are my Son,

whom I love.

I am well pleased with you.”,

identifying Him as the Messiah, the very Son of God.

So, at Jesus' baptism His identity was made known.  He was put into this office, then, as the Savior of the world. 

        -We say the office of being Prophet, because He preached the Word,

        -Priest, because He became the ultimate sacrifice to pay for our sins, and

        -King, because He is our King. 

When Jesus stepped in to the waters of baptism, He began His role as Messiah by becoming the bearer of our sins. 

Baptism is for sinners. 

That is why John said to Jesus, “You don't need to be baptized by me.  I need to be baptized by you”, because he recognized Jesus was not a sinner.  And so, when Jesus stepped into the waters of baptism,

He was identifying Himself with sinners. 

In fact, He was taking into those waters all of our sin to Himself, so that the next day, John the Baptist could point at Jesus and say,

“Look, look! 

The Lamb of God,

who takes away the sin of the world.” 

So, at His baptism, Jesus is identified as the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, anointed by the Holy Spirit.  And, He takes to Himself all of our sins, and now He is going to carry them to the cross where He will make full, and complete payment for sin. 


What about your baptism?  Jesus' baptism identified Him as the Messiah, and the sin bearer for all people.  What about your baptism? 

John the Baptist says this about Jesus. 

“I baptize you with water.

Someone mightier than I is coming. 

I am not worthy to untie the strap of His sandals.” 

Now, listen to this. 

“He (talking about Jesus) will baptize you

with the Holy Spirit and fire. 

His winnowing shovel is in His hand,

and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor. 

He will gather the wheat into His barn,

but He will burn up the chafe with unquenchable fire.” 

Now, in its most immediate context, that passage, when it says, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire...” is talking about Pentecost Sunday, with the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, and the tongues of fire that came over their heads. 

In the furthest context, it is talking about Judgment Day.  On that day, anybody who has not been baptized by the Holy Spirit and become a believer in Jesus… well then, it says judgment will be poured out on them.  They will be baptized with fire. 

But, in its context right now, Jesus has baptized you with the Holy Spirit.  The Bible always, always identifies your baptism with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  This is where Jesus does it.  This is where it happens.

What did Jesus say to Nicodemus?  He said,

“Unless you are born again of (what?) water and the Spirit,

you can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” 

He connects the Holy Spirit with what happens here at the waters of holy Baptism.

What does it say in the book of Acts?  It says,

“Repent and be baptized every one of you

in the name of Jesus Christ

for the forgiveness of sins

and you will receive (what?) the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

The promise is for you and your children.”

There the Bible connects the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with what happens in baptism.

In the book of Titus it says,

“He saved you

not because of the righteous things you have done. 

He saved you because of His mercy. 

He saved us by the washing of regeneration

and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

which He poured out on us abundantly,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Here at the waters of baptism, happens this pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon you.  That is when the Holy Spirit was poured out on you.  And what happened?  The Bible says,

“No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”  

And so, we believe it is not the water that the Holy Spirit works through, but through The Word.  In baptism, the Holy Spirit always works through The Word.  That is His vehicle.  And so, as The Word was spoken, the Holy Spirit, poured out into your heart, brought you to believe in Jesus, as your Savior from sin.  That is a miracle.  It's a miracle.  But, that is where God promises to meet us. 

Jesus promises to pour out the Holy Spirit. 

We take The Bible at its simplest plainest, clearest meaning.  And so, we believe the Holy Spirit is poured out here at the Baptismal Font. 

At Jesus' baptism, Jesus took our sin as His own, and He carried it to the cross. What did the Holy Spirit give you at your baptism?  As God put His name on you, your name was spoken, and the pastor said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, all of the gifts Jesus has won for you were personally, personally proclaimed to be yours.  The Bible says,

“Don't you know that all of us

who were baptized into Christ Jesus

were baptized into His death?” 

Jesus' death is there, personally given to you.  The Holy Spirit is assuring you, “It is yours.  He died for your sins.  Your sins are forgiven, because of what Jesus did.”  

The Bible tells us,

“All of you

who were baptized into Christ Jesus

have clothed yourselves with Christ?” 

The Holy Spirit here personally speaks your name, and announces to you, telling you that what happened in baptism is you were clothed with the righteousness of Christ.  It is given to you. It is declared to be yours. 

So, you can see why, when this young man came in to Martin Luther, and he was all worried, “Does God forgive me?  Does He love me?”, what did Martin Luther do?  He said, “Don't you know?  You are baptized! 

Who are you?  You are baptized!  The Holy Spirit has personally, personally assured you, spoken your name and assured you that what Jesus did, He did for you.  You are a baptized child of God.” 

It is said Martin Luther had his own issues.  He often was very troubled about things.  He would get depressed.  He would worry about his own sins.  He would have doubts about lots of things.  It is said he took a piece of chalk, and on his desk he wrote, “I am baptized”.  Whenever he would get troubled about something, he would go back to that, and look at it, saying, “Who am I?  I am baptized.  I am baptized!  I believe Jesus was crucified for me.  That is what I was told in my baptism.  That is what the Holy Spirit assured me of.” 

Luther said that not enough Christians go back to their baptism, and glory in their baptism.

You are baptized.  I am baptized.  Do we face doubts, troubles, worries, and wonder sometimes, “Does God really forgive me for the things I have done?”  Are we tempted sometimes to not live as children of God?  How do we fight temptation like that?  Who are you?  You are baptized.  I am baptized.  I know my sins are forgiven.  It has been declared to me.  I am a child of God, by mercy, and grace.  I want to live like a child of God.

God grant that to all of us, for Christ's sake.