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Baptism of our Lord – Matthew 3:13-17

by RevJerabek ~ January 9th, 2009

I Need To Be Baptized By You
Matthew 3:13-17

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

John is again in our Gospel lesson, John the Baptizer. He appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:4 ESV) In our text, Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.

John is the one who, we learn by reading only a few verses before our text had been proclaiming some very harsh words to the religious leaders of the Jewish people, the Pharisees and Sadducees, coming to him for baptism. He said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:7-12 ESV)

Harsh words, but John was proclaiming to them that their outward appearances and their family heritage meant little. They needed to have a heart of repentance, a sincere sorrow of their sinfulness – the sins not only outwardly committed, but the sins of their hearts and their words. They thought themselves superior, better than others, and they acted in a condescending manner, having no heart of love for others, especially those they considered to be less important. They were to bear fruit in keep with repentance, they were treat others with a heart of love.

You might think that these words display that John considered himself to be better than the Pharisees and Sadducees. John is the preacher of the masses, they were all coming to the Jordan to be baptized by him, he must have been above the others? He was certainly putting the hypocritic church leaders in their place, he must be greater than they?

As John is baptizing in the Jordan Jesus comes and requests to be baptized by him. John now shows that he is indeed sent of God, to proclaim God’s word as he protests, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (vs 14)

“Jesus, what are you thinking? I am John, a mere mortal man, a poor miserable sinner. I have sinned against God in thought, word and deed. Yes, I preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, but I myself have a great need to receive the forgiveness that baptism provides. You are the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – who takes away my sin. I need to be baptized by you.”

And indeed, we all ought to agree with him. A baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, Jesus certainly doesn’t need – but it is our greatest need.

From the moment of His conception, it was God who tabernacled in the womb of His mother Mary, devoid of sin. After His birth, the very Son of God humbled Himself to be obedient to all the laws of men and the laws He had established as the Word of God, and delivered through Moses. Perfectly obedient, this One coming to John to be baptized, later went to the cross, suffering shame and death, innocently crucified for telling the truth – that He was indeed God. In that sacrifice, the forgiveness John was dispensing through water and the Word, Jesus purchased.

Indeed, we might well ask why would Jesus come to John to be baptized?

Jesus proclaimed to John, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness.” What does He mean, “to fulfill all righteousness?” Luther, in the baptismal rite that we use, explains it well in the prayer he wrote, when we pray to God: who through the baptism of thy dear Child, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast consecrated and set apart the Jordan and all water as a salutary flood and a rich and full washing away of sins.

Christ was baptized into the sins of the whole world. In His action, He begins to fulfill all righteousness for us. In this action, Christ takes upon Himself our sins and ultimately, our death and the suffering of hell we deserve.

John rightly proclaims, “I need to be baptized by You. I need to have the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, remove my sins from me. I need to be baptized by you, for I need your sacrifice to remove my sins from me. I need to be baptized by you, for I need your life to be given to me that I may live a new life – a life that is pleasing to You and our Heavenly Father.

Dear friends, that is what it means to be a baptized child of God. We proclaim with John, “I need to be baptized by You, Jesus. I need to be cleansed of my sin and given a new life. I need to be baptized by You, Jesus, for I need daily repentance for the forgiveness of sins. I need to be baptized by You, Jesus, for I need to be raised up by You daily, in order to live in the new life that only You can give me.

I need to be baptized by Christ, for as Paul recorded, What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 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. (Rom. 6:1-4 ESV)

Dearly beloved of God, you have been baptized by Christ. He is the Word present in baptism and in baptism, Christ is delivered to you. And as you daily live in your baptism, through daily repentance, you are daily made a new creature in Christ – a forgiven and redeemed child of God. Robed in the righteousness of Christ, the words the Father proclaimed at the Jordan, He proclaims to you, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” And so you are. Amen.

1 Response to Baptism of our Lord – Matthew 3:13-17

  1. ToddPeperkorn

    Welcome to the family of authors! Thanks for your submission. It’s a good sermon.

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