This is the Sunday in the Church Year where we typically celebrate the Baptism of Jesus and we will do that at Oak Hill as I share a message on Romans 6:1-11. For a good portion of my life I had no concept of why this event was worthy of a celebration. But now I truly find it an absolutely mind-boggling event. Let’s take a look.
First off, I would like to remind you that elements of Jesus’ Baptism were clearly referred to in the Old Testament. For instance, we have the prophet Isaiah in chapter 40 declaring the message that John the Baptizer would be delivering when Jesus went out to meet him in the wilderness. We read from Luke 3:
3 He [John] went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
We are told that crowds were going out to hear John and to receive a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Therein lies the reason why Jesus being baptized is so interesting and important. John himself recognized how unexpected and mind-blowing it would be for the Messiah to be baptized by him since he possessed no sinfulness at all. John said it like this in Luke 3:16, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
But Jesus was baptized by John. When Jesus did this, He transformed baptism into a place where we become united to Jesus. God tells us in Romans 6:1-11 that because of what Jesus did by humbling Himself into our baptism we are now “baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus.”
Therefore, I am amazed and thankful that the Father’s declaration at Jesus baptism now includes us because that is simply what Scripture says in Galatians 3:26-27, "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
Here is the reason why Jesus’ Baptism is so clearly something I should celebrate. The Heavenly Father, along with the Holy Spirit plainly stated the position of Jesus which now includes us by God’s promise that we are mysteriously united with Jesus by grace through faith. We continue reading in Luke 3:21-22, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as 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; with you I am well pleased.”
You are so deeply connected with Jesus that you can rest in God Almighty assuring you personally, “You are my Child, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” It is simply a gift from God to you.
Now, that is something to celebrate!
I love a good mystery. Most of my reading that is not related to theology or history will be along the lines of “whodunit.” I love the twists and turns along with figuring out what is a clue and what is a misdirection. When I was a kid, I started out with Encyclopedia Brown, then graduated to the Hardy Boys in upper elementary. Early in our marriage, Barb and I both enjoyed reading the Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
As a child I liked solving puzzles and even the word problems in math that some kids seemed to hate. It all came together in my mind as a mystery to be solved. I couldn’t get enough of finding the hidden object pictures in the Highlights magazine or word search puzzles. As I got older, I would buy logic puzzle magazines and wouldn’t pass up sudokus that would come my way. I have always likes solving things – even in my jobs through the years, I have enjoyed being a problem solver. There is a sense of accomplishment when the “mystery” is solved as far as I am concerned.
This week we enter the season of Epiphany in the Church year. Epiphany means that something is revealed or shown and therefore, understood in a new way or to a greater degree. God’s Word is the revelation of God’s salvation movement in history. From Genesis through Revelation God is showing Himself, His heart and His plan to save us and set us free. The Bible is clear that the key to understanding Scripture is that Jesus is the completed revelation. This means that all the prophecies ultimately find their fulfillment in Jesus and that all our needs are met in Jesus, our savior and lord.
So, during this season of God shedding light on our darkened world we will have a Sunday morning message series called The Mystery Unveiled. The title comes from our text for this Sunday which is Ephesians 3:1-12, but it will also flow out of our texts for the next couple of months.
8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
I invite you to come prepared during this season of Epiphany to once again encounter the answer to all life’s mysteries. Come with a sense of awe and expectancy that God Almighty wants to reveal Himself to you. In Jesus, God pulls back the veil of darkness that can so often overwhelm us. As Jesus is understood, we find joy, peace and life itself.
Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!
Enjoying God’s Mysterious and Wonderful Ways,
Pastor Nick Mundis