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To fulfill all righteousness

Matthew 3:13-17

Pastor David Ernst

Baptism of our Lord
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Jan 16, 2022 

Happy Epiphany!

"Let it be now; because it is necessary for us to fulfill all justice in this way."

Here we have the second recorded statement of Jesus since his visit to the Temple when he was a child. Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe the baptism of Jesus in detail, but only Matthew records this fifteenth verse. The gospel according to Saint Matthew is the most complete among the New Testament writings in regard to the doctrine of the sacraments.

The Gospels according to Saint John only recounts the personal testimony of John the Baptist: “I saw the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. And I did not know him: but the one who sent me to baptize with water, to whom he said: As you see the Spirit descend and remain on him, that is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I saw him, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:31-34).

Clearly, John recognized Jesus, although he had not yet received the sign that would assure him, without a shadow of a doubt. The true sign that dispelled all doubts and made the recognition absolute did not occur until after the baptism. The words of John the Baptist indicate that the descent of the Spirit as a dove was a prophetic sign given to John by God the Father almighty. The descent of the Holy Spirit is the anointing of Jesus before the people of Israel as prophet, priest and king.

However, prior to this sign, the necessity of Jesus' baptism was as incomprehensible to John as it is to us. Jesus did not need repentance. Jesus agrees with John, but even though he is sinless, he is the sin bearer. The word 'now' refers to this moment when Jesus is about to take charge of him. Because He assumed the form of our sinful flesh to become a sinner for all of us. The Spirit did not remain on Jesus for a time. Since the Spirit remains on Jesus, he not only receives the Spirit, he is the one who distributes the Spirit to others in his baptism.

Saint Paul touches on the subject of the sacraments in his first letter to the Corinthians, where our epistle for today is found (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). We are called through baptism, not by our own wisdom or strength, but because Christ has done all for us.

“But through Him you are in Christ Jesus, who from God has become unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30. Our life, both physical and spiritual, comes from God. But, Paul highlights the spiritual blessings that come from God.

1. The revelation that comes from his Word.

2. The absolution won by his Son.

3. The holiness that follows for us.

4. Complete salvation from sin and death.

Look at the unfolding of this plan of salvation. Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. In this way the Son of God was made the Son of Man, to share our human nature, but without sin. For this reason, Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of God in our places. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was true God and true man in the same person. Almighty God the Father sent him into this world. But, in order to proclaim the message of salvation and carry it out by death and resurrection, the Lord had to be anointed, that is, receive the authority of the Father. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus received life from him as the Son of Mary. Also, by the work of the Holy Spirit, he received the approval of the Father to begin his public ministry. After the resurrection, then, Jesus could say to his disciples, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son." and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18-20).

In Christ, righteousness was an established fact for all people. That is the objective justification. The personal application comes to the individual through the means of grace. God has brought us into the communion of his Son, Jesus Christ, because we are God's spiritual lineage by his grace, and the life we ​​have received from God is grounded in Christ. All this has been revealed to us by faith and has become our property through faith. The righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us as well as the perfect fulfillment of his Law.

Such fundamental elements of John's baptism, such as the use of water, repentance for sins and commitment to God, also maintained their place in the baptism of Jesus, that is, Christian baptism. Because Jesus Christ fulfilled all justice, that is, all the will of God, we have this promise, and in this promise, the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

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