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Baptism of our Lord

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Epiphany 1
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Sun, Jan 12, 2020 

Consider your calling brothers. 

These words of Saint Paul do not refer to the calling of God, but the situation of people in the world before they became Christians.  Paul is speaking to us about what we were like before we entered the church.  We were not mighty people on the earth.  We were not particularly wise.  We were not something wonderful or strong or noteworthy in the eyes of the world.

Some of us were fairly successful in the world.  Some of us made some achievements.  Some of us showed a great deal of insight and achievement in education and career.  Perhaps some of us even had some reason to be proud in this life.

But whatever we were, God chose none of us because of what we were.  God did not see what was wise and choose to honor it.  God did not look with admiration at the powerful people or the people of noble birth, and say, “I need to honor those people and bring them into My Kingdom!” Instead God chooses people who are weak and poor and lowly.  Because even those who are wise and strong must learn to see themselves as nothing before God.

Jesus Christ our Lord said that we must become as infants in order to enter the Kingdom of heaven.  Infants are not wise.  Infants are not strong or self sufficient.  You must be like infants.  Whatever you have in yourself that you might be proud of, you must learn to regard as nothing.

If God sees a person who is proud and wise in their own eyes, who is strong and relies on their strength, then he does not highly regard that person.  Instead God favors people who are downtrodden, the weak, the foolish, and people who are despised as if they are nothing at all.  But the people who think they have reason to boast will not want God either, unless they are seeking a God who will pat them on the back and say, “What a great person you are!” But a strong person needs no Savior.  A wise man thinks that he does not need the wisdom of God.

We see this most clearly at the Baptismal Font.  We little children are brought by God to Himself.  He sees us helpless, wiggling infants, and He says, “I claim that one!” Meanwhile he looks at the strutting celebrities and the accomplished giants and those who are demigods in their own minds, and He just laughs.

Become nothing, and God will raise you up to eternal glory.

So we boast, but not in ourselves.  If there is anything good that is in us, then we point to God and say, “He did it.” He has accomplished our righteousness and sanctification and redemption in Christ Jesus.  We could have no righteousness of our own, no matter how glorious our good works appeared, unless Christ covered us with the cloak of His righteous deeds.  We could have no holiness of our own unless Christ washed us and crowned us with His own holiness.  Redemption only comes to anyone because it is poured out with Christ’s Blood on Calvary to flow to us at the Baptismal Font.

All this is the wisdom of God, His divine plan that confounds and confuses all the wisdom of men.  The collective brilliance of all the geniuses on earth could not have conceived of the least detail of God’s unfolding wisdom.

Since God’s wisdom has come to you in Christ and His grace, then do not be surprised when the world despises you as nothing.  They will act as if you are foolish and lowly and weak.  And you are, in yourself.  But what you are in Christ is the glory and power of God in His Gospel of eternal life.

When they treat you like nothing, then be happy!  God does His greatest creations out of nothing.  That is the way He did it in the beginning when He made all the heavens and the earth.  That is the way He does it at the Baptismal Font.  That is what He does with us nothings, lost in sin, hopeless, doomed to death, and He creates sons of God.  Talk about noble birth!  We are reborn as sons of the Almighty, brothers and sisters of Christ the King!  We are filled with a glory that will only be revealed at the last day, the glory of Christ the Lord that is put into us by the Spirit.

God confounds the wise with His seemingly useless acts.  He washes a baby, and the world says, “Ho hum!  That is nothing at all.” But God, right under the world’s clueless nose, makes a new creation where before there was death.

So it was with our Lord.  He stepped into the Jordan.  Even Saint John the Baptist was confused, because he should be baptized by Christ.  But the sinless One was baptized as a sinner.  Common water, surely useless to do anything, was poured on Him.  The Pharisees and the wise men all scoffed, both at Baptism and at Christ.  “This is useless, and He is a nobody!”

But just then, the Triune God pulled back the curtain a little bit.  “Look at this,” He said as He tore apart heaven to cry out, “You think this Man is nothing?  This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!” And the Spirit took corporeal form as a dove to come down upon Christ, as if to say, “You think this Baptism is nothing?  See, this is the washing of the Holy Spirit!”

And Christ said nothing as He stood dripping.  A wet Man who seemed like nothing at all was prepared to take all sins and all sinners on His shoulders.  Nothing?  No, He is everything.

And you, who seem like nothing, are the glory of God in Christ Jesus.  You have stood where He stood, in the waters of the Spirit.  The same Father has declared His approval of you.

Remember that your Baptism is not nothing.  It is everything, and so are you.  Amen.

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