Sermon Summary (1/8/17), “Child of God” Matthew 3:13-17
I marvel at the power of baptism. We had a powerful service here on Nov 6th where we had 12 baptisms. There were tears in some eyes, joy in others. There is a mystery in the power of baptism that may take us a lifetime to understand, but it is there. Power.
Our understanding begins with the Baptizer (as Mark calls him) a cousin of Jesus. They may have played together as families gathered in Jerusalem for Passover. John the Baptist, born to elderly parents, may have been raised in Qumran with the Essenes who believed in ritual baths for cleansing. It may have been where John developed his idea of baptism of all for the forgiveness of sins.
John’s idea of baptism was radical. Never before had a Jew been baptized; proselytes, yes, but a Jew had never before been baptized for the forgiveness of sins. They were chosen after all. The religious authorities would never submit to such a thing. But, the tax collectors knew. After being baptized they asked John “What now shall we do?” He said, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” The soldiers knew and were baptized. Even the crowds knew, were baptized and asked. John told them “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” All were sinners and needed repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
Why then was Jesus who was without sin baptized? It has been debated since the beginning. William Barclay says, “The deepest meaning for [Jesus] undergoing baptism for the forgiveness of sins is to identify with sinful and sorrowful humanity.” Identify with us.
God identifies Jesus with us in another way. At Jesus’ baptism God declare, “This is my son the beloved in whom I am well pleased.” Hearers heard this a Messianic declaration (Ps 2:7) and a phrase from Isaiah’s servant song (Is 42:1). God declaring Jesus as his Son and propelling him on mission of servanthood and sacrifice.
We at our baptism are declared a child of God with the full rights of inheritance, and we too are on a mission to become followers of Jesus on his ministry of servanthood and sacrifice. We are claimed as children of God at our baptixm.
In a story of illegitimate child growing up with difficulty and shame, a pastor told him, “I know you, I can see the family resemblance. You are a child of God. You have a wonderful inheritance. Now go out there and claim it.” It changed the life of Ben Hooper who later became Governor of the great state of Tennessee. Power.