January 11, 2015 Text: Mark 1:4-11
Dear Friends in Christ,
“There’s something in the water.” If you grew up like I did in the 1970’s and 1980’s you remember a couple of movies where that line was important – “Jaws and Caddyshack.” One used it for fear. One used it for comedy. In each case that line help to make the scene.
We also have used this sentence. Maybe while drinking a glass of water or swimming in the water or bathing in the water. When we use it, it usually means something is in the water that we don’t want near us or on our person. Today is the day of Jesus’ Baptism and water is a big part of the plot line. But apart from the way we usually think, this water is a blessing. You see there is something more than just H2O. Praise God . . .
“THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE WATER”
Let’s get right to the “something in the water” from our text. Mark quotes John, “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (v. 8) See there is something more in the water – the Holy Spirit. And more than that. We know from Matthew 28 that we are to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is present in Baptism. The Word of God with the water is what makes our Baptism valid. The Triune God is blessing us.
The text continues, “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” (vs. 9-11) What is in the water here? Jesus. The Son of God. And look at the familial relationship. The Father is pleased with the Son.
What about our family relationships? They can be a struggle, can’t they? Arguments over nothing. Words or actions punishing the ones we love. Fighting during Christmas gift opening. Letting others know they don’t please us and receiving that same putdown. Relationships that are chilly at best. Getting along just to keep peace in the family. Oh Satan does love to work on our hearts, doesn’t he?
James S. Hewett tells this story: “A woman got on an elevator in an office building. There was just one other person in the elevator, a handsome man. She pushed the button for her floor and casually looked over at the man and suddenly had one of those sudden recognition moments. Could it be? The man looked exactly like Robert Redford, the movie star. Her gaze was almost involuntarily riveted on him. Finally, she blurted out, ‘Are you the real Robert Redford?’ He smiled and said, ‘Only when I’m alone!’”
The real . . . you and me. Who are we when alone in family relationships? Are we the same person that shines in the pew this morning or do we fall short in our kindness, love, and patience. We think we are one and the same, but an honest look might reveal something different.
That is why we needed “something in the water.” Jesus is at the Jordan to be baptized as the worst of sinners. Oh no . . . it is not for His sin for He is the sinless Son of God. He is baptized on account of us. For us! Christ is taking our place. Earning our forgiveness. Fulfilling all the requirements that God demanded in our stead. This all pleases the Father. This family relationship overcame our sinful family relationships. Jesus in the water for you.
The Father is pleased that the Son has taken our place. And our baptisms are what god does for us in order that we might share in Christ’s death and resurrection. Our sins have been washed away and we are acceptable to God. Though we cannot do what we want to do perfectly – though we still struggle with the sin in us – for the sake of Jesus Christ and the baptismal grace bestowed upon us God is pleased with us.
On Nov. 3, 1996, former Royal Marine Pete Goss embarked on the most grueling competition in his sailing career: the Vendee Globe, a nonstop, single-handed, round-the-world yacht race. Goss had trained for years, and this race was everything to him.
But seven weeks after Goss’s race began, he received a May Day distress signal. It was Christmas Day. A French competitor was sinking 160 miles away. Goss was the nearest person available to launch a rescue.
Goss turned his eyes from himself and his own interests of winning the Vendee Globe to the needs of this French sailor. For two days, Goss battled hurricane winds and risk to himself to search for this man who was now near death in the vast wilderness of the southern Indian Ocean. At the sacrifice of his personal dream and victory, Pete Goss heroically saved this man’s life.
The new life of the Christian in Baptism, the life that cares for others rather than for self, is a life of death – not ours, but Christ’s. We were buried with Christ by Baptism into His death (Rom. 6:4). Christ was the one who sacrificed everything that was his to save us. Because Christ was in the water, because the Word is in the water and because one day that water was on your forehead or even your full body you have been saved. Having been saved, we willingly live the new life of sacrifice for others.